How Long Do Hip Replacements Last?

hip implant xray

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Hip replacement surgery is a treatment for severe hip arthritis. Most people understand that hip replacements can wear out over time, but exactly how long is a hip replacement supposed to last?

Hip replacements eventually wear out. Unfortunately, an artificial hip is not as durable as your own hip. Because the hip replacement implants are made of metal and plastic, these materials begin to wear over time, just like the rubber on your car tires. Even hip replacements made with special materials designed to last a long time do not last forever.

Average Longevity

The good news is that studies show that common types of hip replacements can last more than 20 years. While there are hundreds of studies, they all vary in the type of implant used and the type of patient who had their hip replaced.

You should remember that while some people may have hip replacements that last several decades, others may require a repeat hip replacement just a handful of years after their surgery.

Revision hip replacement (a second hip replacement) is a major undertaking that often has less successful results than an initial hip replacement. 

Factors Affecting Longevity

Many studies have been done to determine how long a hip replacement will last. With hundreds of different types of hip replacements and countless different types of people, there is no rule to how long a hip replacement will last in a particular individual.

Implant manufacturers are constantly striving to create a "better" implant that will last longer. Some of these implants have only been used for a handful of years, and determining whether or not they will last longer is a question only time can answer.

Some of the factors that seem to influence the longevity of hip replacement implants include:

Age

Younger patients require a hip replacement to last much longer. On top of that, younger people tend to be more active. Therefore, people who have a hip replacement in their fifties or younger can usually expect to require a revision hip replacement in their lifetime.

Activities

Some activities may not be appropriate for people with a hip replacement. While these activities may not be painful or difficult, they may place excessive stress on the hip replacement, causing the parts to wear out more quickly. Avoid activities that place high-impact stress on the joint, such as jogging, jumping, and contact sports such as football.

Low-impact sports generally safe to participate in after a total hip replacement include swimming, golf, hiking, cycling, doubles tennis, low-impact aerobics, and rowing.

Post-Operative Complications

This may sound obvious, but there are some specific medical conditions that can lead to complications affecting the joint replacement. People having invasive medical procedures (including dental work) may require antibiotic treatment to prevent bacteria from getting into the joint replacement.

People with osteoporosis should ensure that they are being adequately treated, as a fracture in the bone around a joint replacement can affect the functioning of the implant.

Weight

The more an individual weighs the more stress that is placed on the joint replacement implant. Maintaining normal body weight is critically important when trying to make a joint replacement last. Appropriate exercises can be helpful in maintaining a healthy hip replacement.

Despite these concerns, obesity does not exclude people from undergoing a hip replacement. In fact, a 2017 study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that people with obesity enjoyed the same gains in functionality as those without.

A Word From Verywell

One temptation of patients and surgeons alike is to be attracted to the newest hip replacement on the market. Undoubtedly, this implant will claim to function better and last longer than other hip replacements.

While these newer implants may be better, it is also important to understand that being new means there is no long-term data on how well these implants will function over time.

Ask any orthopedic surgeon about the implants they have seen come and go over the course of their career. Just because an implant is newer does not necessarily mean it is better.

While new technology can be promising, you don't want to be a guinea pig for something unproven. Your surgeon can help guide you to an appropriate hip replacement that is best for you.

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Article Sources

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  3. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Revision Total Hip Replacement.

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