Total hip replacement has become one of the most common and successful procedures in the U.S.
Medical advances even have some patients leaving the hospital within hours of surgery.
"We have also worked on the variables that have contributed to the length of stay, reducing pain, and improving function," explains orthopedic surgeon Dr. Phillip Downer.
When Dr. Downer works with a patient, he makes sure they are ready for surgery by losing weight, managing diabetes or blood pressure - whatever the case may be for each patient - so that after surgery, their body can optimally heal.
"That's partly to do with the approach of the surgery that the surgeon does, but it's also done with the preparation," says Dr. Downer when explaining 'pre-hab,' or getting the body physically prepared for surgery.
Dr. Downer performs multiple hip surgeries almost daily. He uses what's called an anterior approach, where the hip joint is accessed through the front of the hip as opposed to the rear through the buttocks, known as posterior. Since less muscle is cut with the anterior procedure, some patients are up and around very quickly after surgery.
In total hip replacement, the damaged bone and cartilage is removed and replaced with prosthetics. Downer credits the rising success rates of joint replacement surgery, in part, to the evolution of implants.
"It's incredible, but you can reproducibly replace such a complex joint as the hip that has so much importance of movement and stability, and we can replace it with these artificial parts that function very much like the natural hip does," says Dr. Downer.
Good news for an increasingly active generation which has led to an increase in young patients. Many people in their 20's and 30's are in need of joint replacements.
Dr. Downer reminds his young patients to respect their body.
"Running on a joint replacement is going to have a much bigger impact on how long it will last than hiking or swimming would. You could spend every day of your life after hip replacement and have very little impact on the life of that implant," Dr. Downer said.
Low impact sports are pretty much the most important component in protecting hip replacements in young people. No matter how old you are when getting a joint replaced, remember to commit to physical therapy afterward to maximize the benefits of your new hip.