How Well Do Hip Replacements Work? New Research Raises Questions…

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You can’t watch TV or cruise the Internet without seeing ads for Hip Replacement surgery where you see active people doing everything from riding bikes to climbing mountains. Heck, these ads are even on the buses where I live. However, how realistic is that? Today we’ll focus on new Hip Replacement research that doesn’t really support the idea that people who get a “new hip” become more active. Let’s dig in.

The Ads for Hip Replacement

The Internet is full of ads showing people rocking high levels of physical activity after Hip Replacement. Check a shot from this video from UC San Diego Health:

activity after hip replacement

This guy is riding his bike to the top of mountains after double Hip Replacement surgery! Or here’s another one from the University of Iowa:

However, is any of this accurate? Do most people get to these activity levels after Hip Replacement?

Learn about Regenexx procedures for hip conditions.

New Research

Digital devices are transforming orthopedic studies. Why? Because activity levels after a procedure used to be determined by the patient filling out a questionnaire. That brings all sorts of issues as sometimes patients don’t fill out the questionnaire. Othertimes they may over or underestimate their actual activity levels. However, now with digital devices that patients wear, you can get an accurate snapshot of activity levels.

This new research used digital wrist trackers in 51 patients who had all undergone the same type of Hip Replacement surgery. These activity levels were determined at 1 and two years after the procedure and compared to prior to the surgery. The authors also performed a 3-D gait analysis.

The good news? The limp that the patients generally had prior to the Hip Replacement got better.

The bad news? The patients didn’t get any more active after the procedure. In fact, their sleep efficiency got worse at 2-years after the surgery. In addition, people got LESS active at one year and even less active at two years after the surgery.

So much for those ads showing people biking up mountains! This study didn’t support that this is a real or average result of having a Hip Replacement.

The upshot? While you may really need a Hip Replacement, the actual results aren’t as great as the ads, so don’t expect to begin to run marathons or climb mountains after surgery. Like everything in medicine, there is the hype and then the reality.

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References:

(1) Bahl JS, Millar SC, Fraysse F, Arnold JB, Taylor M, Callary S, Solomon LB, Thewlis D. Changes in 24-Hour Physical Activity Patterns and Walking Gait Biomechanics After Primary Total Hip Arthroplasty: A 2-Year Follow-up Study. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2021 May 27. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.20.01679. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34043603.

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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