Understandably unaware of Hip Replacement Risks, most people think that getting their hip replaced is like replacing a bad part in their car. They pull into the shop and the surgeon disconnects the old hip, removes it, and then screws in a shiny new one. Problem solved. However, comparing a bad hip to a bad car part is a bit like comparing apples to onions; it just doesn’t work. Repairing a bad part in a car involves replacing a machine part that’s old with an identical new one. The machine parts used in a “new hip” aren’t identical to the original equipment; hence, a hip replacement may disrupt hip and knee alignment. Why? Machine parts simply don’t belong in a hip.
Now we have yet another study that confirms that hip replacement likely destroys the natural precise alignment of your hip.
Hip Replacement Changes the Biomechanics of the Leg…
This new study looked at changes in alignment of both the hip and knee following hip replacement. The study included scientific measurements during walking of 163 (151 with osteoarthritis, 12 without) hip replacement patients. Researchers measured changes from pre- to postoperative physical changes (e.g., leg length), function (how the knee and hip moved), and images. The results showed that the tracking of the knee cap was altered following hip replacement, possibly leading to a higher risk of arthritis in the knee. This impacted how the patient walked and functioned in daily activities, possibly leading to longer term issues in the back and ankle as well.
Don’t Forget These Hip Replacement Risks and Side Effects
If the new study showing hip replacement disrupts hip and knee alignment isn’t enough to dissuade you, don’t forget the numerous hip replacement risks, side effects and complications we’ve blogged about many times, most recently earlier this month:
- Heart failure in men— During the 2016 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting, research results concluded that the risk of heart failure in men nearly doubled after they’d received a metal-on-metal (MOM) hip implant.
- Pain—In one research study, 35% of patients reported pain and also showed significantly higher cobalt and chromium blood levels compared to patients without pain. Patients with the lowest cobalt levels reported significantly less pain and significantly better outcomes on functional measures.
- Genetic defects—Chromosomes can be damaged by wear debris from hip replacement metals, and if that happens, your cells receive bad instructions for how to make more cells and the chemicals that keep them alive, leading to local genetic problems in the cells that surround the joint.
- Cobalt and chromium toxicity— Hip replacement cobalt toxicity, or elevated cobalt levels, from metal-on-metal hip implants are a serious problem, but many doctors miss the signs and symptoms of cobalt poisoning. Animal studies have shown that high cobalt metal levels can affect the nerves in the eye. Hearing and vision loss are also commonly associated symptoms with both chromium and cobalt toxicity.
- Revisions—Revisions can be a result of many complications. A hip replacement revision is when the surgeon has to repair or remove an implant. Revisions of metal-on-metal hip implants can be effective for reducing metal ions in the blood, though some metals can remain in the blood even after the implant is removed!
- Pseudotumors/tissue irritation—The metal shavings from the metal-on-metal hip implant can fill the joint area and irritate surrounding tissues, forming black soot-like metal particles that can cause strange tissue reactions, sometimes creating what looks like a tumor (pseudotumor). Pseudotumors can become very big—golf ball sized or larger—and press on the nerves, arteries, and veins near the hip joint, causing pain and other problems.
The upshot? While out with the old, in with the new may be a poignant idiom to live by when dealing with bad parts in your car, in most cases it doesn’t translate well to your bad hips. With so many studies showing numerous hip replacement risks, side effects and complications, and now this newest study showing hip replacement disrupts hip and knee alignment, it may be time to consider treasuring and nurturing the old with a nonsurgical alternative using your own stem cells. Newer isn’t always better!