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New findings to be presented at this year’s AAOS conference shows that over the past decade, hip replacements surgery rates among American between the ages of 45 to 64 has nearly doubled. This type of surgery is generally reserved for elderly people. But these younger patients now account for over 42% of all hip replacements nationwide.

The study was conducted by Alexander McLawhorn, M.D., M.B.A., and an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. They looked at a government database on U.S. hospital admissions between 2002 and 2011.

McLawhorn’s team believes that an aging populous is to blame for this new trend.

“But I definitely think there are other factors driving the trend, too,” McLawhorn stated in an interview with HealthDay. “Improvements in the artificial joints’ durability, and surgeons’ growing willingness to place them in younger, more active people might also be factors behind the increase. Plus, patients with severe arthritis are increasingly open to the option. I think there’s been a shift in the public perception of what your function will be like after a total hip replacement.”

“With the aging baby boomers, you have an entire generation who started playing sports and exercising when they were little kids,” according to Dr. Claudette Lajam, an orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “Their parents didn’t do that. They walked for exercise, but most of them weren’t playing sports or going to the gym. So now you have this large population with a lot of wear-and-tear in their hips.”

In the study, few patients suffered any complications. However, men were slightly more likely to have complications than women, but the risks were still very low. But like in any kind of surgical procedures, patients should be aware of potential risks.

Lajam made clear that patients should have realistic expectations of life after hip replacement surgery. “This is not a fountain of youth,” she said. “It’s more like a fountain of middle-age. It will help you get back to the function you had when you were 40.”


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