Generally, the older you get, the greater your chance of needing a hip replacement, regardless of gender. For example, someone over the age of 70 has a 9 times higher chance of having a hip replacement than someone aged 55. Like age, the greater your weight, the greater your chance of needing surgery. The heavier you are the more strain you place on your hip joint, contributing significantly to developing osteoarthritis, which ultimately increases your risk of needing a hip replacement.
More and more patients are having the procedure done at a younger age. Nearly a third of hip replacements are done on patients under the age of 65. This is probably due to the fact that the science of making prosthetic (artificial) hips has advanced over the years and many ‘new’ hips will now last over 15 years and up to 25 years. In addition, recovery has progressed and with intensive rehabilitation you can be back up and ‘running’ (well walking) within the same day or the next day after surgery. Most people can resume normal routine activities within the first 3 to 6 weeks of their total hip replacement.
You are never ‘too old’ for surgery. Although the risk of surgery in general is greater, the older you are, the research has shown that elderly and frail patients get better results from having a hip replacement following a fall, than simply a repair of a hip fracture. If there is a risk of falling due to pain and lack of mobility in your hips – it’s likely to be better to have a hip replacement before you have an accident. Sadly the statistics are not good for experiencing an adverse medical event after a high fracture, and there is a significant risk of death within 6 months following a hip fracture. Hip replacement surgery has been proven to improve survival rates in elderly patients.
It is only natural to be scared, or have concerns about surgery, however the risks can be reduced with adequate preparation. Before surgery, consulting a physical therapist and improving the strength of your hip and leg muscles (and your arms for using crutches) can go a long way in helping your recovery after surgery.
Also reducing your body weight before surgery will reduce the risk of developing a clot post-surgery as well as making it much easier to get up and mobilise. The more knowledge you have and preparation you put in, like practicing specific exercises and using crutches – before surgery, the easier and less daunting the rehabilitation will be.
Having the physical therapist ‘yank’ you out of bed on the same day or early the next day after surgery is probably not what you will want, but studies have shown that the sooner you become mobile the lower (and significantly lower) your risk of developing a clot or suffering an adverse medical event. It also speeds up your time to returning home, as discharge strongly depends on being able to walk and climb stairs safely. Again reducing your time spent in hospital will lessen your chance of picking up an infection.