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You Asked Us: What Is the Best Age for Hip Replacement?

Patients often ask themselves and their orthopedists, “Am I too old for a hip replacement?” Just as frequently they ask, “Am I too young?” The answers may surprise you and have you taking another look at the benefits of hip replacement.

The Arthritis Foundation reports that most people who undergo hip replacement surgery are between ages 50 and 80. Even if you aren’t in that age range, a hip replacement can still be a safe and life-changing surgery for people far younger and for people in their 90s. What matters most is that the patient is physically healthy. The ideal patient is generally fit, is in good cardiovascular health and is successfully managing conditions like hypertension and diabetes.

Certain conditions are more prevalent as people get older, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, as mentioned above, but if they are well controlled with medications then the risk is normalized and a hip replacement can still be an option. Conditions that would lead an orthopedist to advise against surgery include a BMI of 45 or greater, or a negative cardiac history. When a patient’s health is poor, the risks of infection or of a cardiac event following surgery are higher. Some older patients may be more inclined to have periods of confusion, and in that case they would want to talk to their health care team about using fewer pain medications that may affect their mental state.

Hip Replacement for Younger Patients

In this case, we consider “younger” as meaning age 50 and below. A hip replacement can be a game changer for this age group, such as people with osteoarthritis, those who have experienced some type of hip injury where the cartilage was damaged and is causing stiffness or pain, as well as those experiencing limited blood supply to the femoral head because of injury or disease. One study found that many hip replacements implanted in adults younger than 50 are still performing well 35 years later. Technologies have only improved since then.

With children (as with any patient) the first line of treatment for hip pain would be physical therapy, pain medications or injections (such as corticosteroids). When an orthopedist is unable to alleviate the pain or improve functionality for a child, then pediatric hip replacement can be considered. Conditions that would warrant hip replacement are a malformation of the hip, bone cancer or bone infection, osteoarthritis or injury.

A parent may wonder if their child will need to have another hip replacement in the future. Since younger patients tend to be more active, the implants can potentially wear out faster, however they can last 30-plus years in many situations.

Age Is Just a Number

No matter how old you are, a hip replacement could lead to positive changes in all areas of your life. Children are able to enjoy their childhoods by being able to participate in typical activities. Other people can reduce their pain and improve functionality, leading to a more active lifestyle and becoming less dependent on walking aids. Older patients, even in their 90s, benefit from all of these advantages as well, plus the added freedom and positive emotional effects of being better able to care for themselves.

Hip replacement can improve the quality of life for patients of all ages. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Gautum Siram has performed hip replacements for patients ranging in age from 13 to 101. Contact our office for a consultation.

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