Hip, Hip, Hooray! New Joints Are Lasting Longer.

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Modern materials make for longer-lasting hip replacements, more activity for you.

Feeling a little stick in your shift? A bit of a snag in your shimmy? Or maybe just that annoying dull soreness mixed with some morning stiffness and an occasional jolt of pain.

Well, if your hips won’t hula the way they once could, it may be time for a new one.

A tell-tale part
You might want to talk to an orthopedic surgeon if you notice any of these warning signs:

  • Regular or persistent pain
  • Aching during or after exercise
  • Loss of mobility, difficulty walking or climbing stairs
  • Stiffening after sitting or when you get out of bed in the morning

Basically, it comes down to wear and tear.
As my cousin, the physician’s assistant, once said, “Your body’s a machine. You use it long enough, some parts are going to wear out.”

Luckily, your hip is one of the parts that can be replaced. And, thanks to steady advances in technology, an artificial hip should have you hopping for joy in no time – and jumping and running, too.

In fact, nowadays, says Dr. Victor Hernandez, an orthopedic surgeon with the UHealth Joint Replacement Program, you should be able to do anything after a hip replacement that you could do before.

“I allow my patients to do all kinds of sports, all kinds of activities,” he says. “I want them to go back to normal life.”

Great expectations

Modern materials used for artificial hip joints should last 20 or 25 years, he says. Or longer.

“But,” he says, “it depends on the activity and the weight. The patient needs to be aware that the more active he is, the more weight the patient gains, the faster it’s going to wear out.”

High-impact sports like basketball or volleyball are going to take more of a toll, he says. But even then, the latest generation of artificial joint plastics should be good for a dozen years or more.

What he does recommend are regular follow-ups. That might mean getting an X-ray of the joint once every two or three years, or sooner, depending on what you do, and what he sees. If the plastic in the joint is wearing thin, your doctor can go back in to fix it.

“We can do a simple surgery,” Dr. Hernandez says. “It’s called a liner exchange. We take the plastic out and we put in a new one. It’s easier than doing the whole total hip replacement. And then it will last another 20, 25 years.”


Carlos Harrison is a contributing writer for the UMiami Health News Blog. He is a former national and international television correspondent, as well as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor.