If you think you might need a hip replacement or have recently had the operation, this is likely to be a question you want to know the answer to. In this article, we explore the life spans of artificial hip joints, look at the latest technology in hip replacement, and answer the question: how long does a hip replacement last?
Hip replacement lifespans
The lifespan of an artificial hip joint will depend on several factors. These include:
- the age of the patient at the time of their operation
- how healthy the patient is pre-operation
- how active the patient wants to be post-surgery
- the type of material used in the implant.
With that in mind, following a successful operation and recovery process, patients should expect their new hip to last between 10-15 years. Some last much longer (even up to 20 years and beyond), while others need medical intervention sooner.
Why do some people need hip revision surgery?
- Dislocation – This can occur following a sudden-impact accident or if the original implant was the wrong size.
- Infection – This is the most serious complication of hip replacement. Symptoms include pain, instability and swelling of the joint. Patients with infected hip implants often require surgery.
- Instability or loosening of the joint – This occurs when the bone fails to grow around the original hip implant. Patients with this issue are likely to experience hip pain, swelling of the joint, and partial or full dislocation of the joint.
- Fracture – During a hip replacement, the implant is attached to the bones. When one of these fractures, this may cause the artificial implant to loosen.
Risk factors for revision surgery
While hip revision is considered a safe procedure, as with any surgery, there are risks. Infections, nerve damage, blood clots, fracture, and instability of the joint are all complications that can arise. For some patients, there is also the possibility of needing more than one surgery to solve their hip problem.
What are the signs of a hip replacement wearing out?
If your artificial hip joint is wearing out, you may be experiencing one or more of the below symptoms:
- pain in your groin, hip or leg
- swelling around your hip joint
- developing a limp or having problems walking
- a grinding or clunking sound from the joint.
How many times can you have a hip replacement?
As the lifespan of an artificial hip joint is typically between 10-15 years, younger hip replacement patients are more likely to need revision or replacement surgeries. This is supported by studies and reports. With that in mind, patients can receive as many hip surgeries as needed. However, with every revision, there is a higher possibility of losing more bone from the hip. This can result in subsequent surgeries being more difficult and unpredictable.
Tips for looking after your new hip
As soon as you’re able after your hip or knee replacement surgery, you’ll be encouraged to start your recovery. This will involve doing specific exercises that are primarily aimed at strengthening the muscles in the operated leg. To give yourself the best chance at a full recovery, you should follow and complete the physiotherapy plan provided by your doctor.
Alongside your physio, there are other tips for looking after your new joint. Walking is generally considered the best exercise following total hip replacement. This is because it helps to promote hip movement and is a low-impact activity. The importance of rest and sleep shouldn’t be overlooked either. This will help promote recovery and, in turn, could improve your overall quality of life.
Hip replacement surgery FAQs
Haven’t quite found what you’re looking for? Our hip replacement FAQs might be able to help!
While it’s difficult to provide a definitive answer to this question, it is likely a hip replacement won’t last as long in a younger patient than an elderly one. This is because younger people are more likely to be active, making the artificial hip more vulnerable to wear and tear.
It is likely a hip replacement will last longer in an elderly patient than a younger one. This is because elderly people are less likely to be active, meaning the artificial hip isn’t put under much stress.
It’s difficult to pinpoint how long an artificial hip joint made from titanium will last. However, there are pros and cons to the material. For example, titanium cobalt implants are biocompatible, which means they won’t wear, change or cause immune reactions inside the human body.
As with titanium and Polyethylene hip replacements, it’s difficult to definitively say how long a ceramic hip will last. However, one major advantage of ceramic implants is that they’re scratch-resistant. This means they’re much less likely to wear down over time and have a long life expectancy. The downside of ceramic implants is their cost and susceptibility to shattering.
Of all the available plastic parts involved in hip replacement, Polyethylene plastic is the most important. Technological advances over the past three decades have meant the risks of the plastic wearing have greatly reduced.
It’s unlikely. All the studies point to hip replacements having a lifespan of between 10-15 years.
Walking is generally considered the best exercise following total hip replacement. This is because it helps to promote hip movement and is a low-impact activity. With that in mind, it’s important to exercise in moderation and follow the advice of your doctor or physio.