When is it too late to get a hip replacement?

If you need a hip replacement, you’re probably experiencing at least some apprehension. As with any other surgery, there’s good and bad news. The good news is that there is no age limit when it comes to getting the hip replacement you need! However, there are some risk factors that can make the procedure more difficult. In this article, we aim to answer the question: when is too late to get a hip replacement?

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What is the average age for a hip replacement?

Most hip replacements are performed on patients between 60 and 80 years old.

As osteoporosis and other forms of arthritis are more common in older people, they are more likely to need partial or total hip replacement surgery.

While uncommon, younger adults and teenagers have been known to require hip arthroplasty.

Hip replacement statistics by age

According to Statistica, in England in 2020/21, the demographic that received the most hip replacements were women aged between 75 – 79 years. The number of hip replacements peaked in the age group of 75 – 79 for both men and women.

There is no official cut-off age for getting a hip replacement. In fact, trends indicate that hip replacements have a higher success rate in older patients than younger ones! This means, as long as patients are healthy, hip replacements are possible well past the 75 – 79 age bracket.

Essentially, the older you get, your eligibility for a hip replacement comes down to your level of fitness and general health. Any pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of complications during surgery could also play a part. Your doctor or surgeon will carefully weigh the benefits and risks to see if the procedure is right for you.

Who is not a candidate for hip surgery?

While it’s unlikely a consultant will refuse surgery for a patient, the following factors may inform their recommendation against the procedure:

  • if you’re overweight or obese
  • if you’re allergic to the implant materials
  • whether you have a pre-existing health condition
  • if the consultant thinks you will struggle to complete the recovery plan.

When is hip surgery urgent?

The urgency of your surgery is dependent on the state of the joint. Your consultant will assess the damage and take your other symptoms into account before making a decision.

Other symptoms will include the amount of pain you’re in and whether your condition is affecting your ability to carry out daily tasks. Your mental wellbeing will also be taken into account when considering surgery. You can check the signs you may need a hip replacement for more information.

What happens if you delay a hip replacement?

If you delay hip replacement surgery, it’s likely the damage to your joint will worsen. This could make the eventual surgery more difficult, increasing the risk of complications.

Another risk of delaying surgery is a possible decrease in mobility. If your pain prevents you from being active, the stiffness in your joint may worsen over time, making movement difficult.

How long can hip surgery be delayed?

This will vary from patient to patient and depends on a number of different factors. You should talk to your consultant if you are concerned about waiting for a hip replacement.

If you are paying for yourself, the average time from booking enquiry to having your surgery at Practice Plus Group is 11 weeks.

Pain in your hip?

If you’re experiencing hip pain, try our hip suitability quiz. It will give you an idea of whether you’d benefit from booking a consultation with one of our hip specialists.

What to consider when deciding whether to get hip replacement surgery

While hip replacement is a common and successful procedure for the majority of patients, there are always factors to consider before you make a decision about having surgery.

Potential risks

Having a hip replacement comes with both benefits and risks. These include:

  • nerve damage
  • blood clots
  • joint dislocation
  • infection
  • leg length discrepancy.

The recovery process

You will experience some pain and stiffness as you recover from surgery. It’s important to keep mobile and follow your physiotherapy recovery plan to give you the best chance at making a full recovery. If you think you may struggle with this, please discuss with your consultant.

Your overall health

If your overall health is good, you are more likely to have a successful outcome and a speedy recovery. Patients with a healthy and active lifestyle are more likely to make a full recovery.

The lifespan of your artificial joint

When deciding on the right time to have your hip replaced, you will need to consider how long the replacement will last. A new hip implant will usually last between 10 and 15 years depending on how well you look after it. So, if you get the procedure while in your 50s, you may need another hip revision surgery later on in life.

Available alternatives

Before you take the plunge, you may want to consider the alternatives to surgery. Anti-inflammatory medication or hip injections (PNF) can have a great effect. You can also make lifestyle improvements to help relieve pain. These include losing weight or trying physiotherapy. Speak to your consultant for more information about the alternatives.

Care and support

In the days after your hip surgery, your mobility is going to be limited. With that in mind, it’s likely you’ll need help and care with regular household chores, shopping and driving. If you don’t have family or friends that can help, your doctor should be able to help arrange care.

Younger hip replacement patients

Given the lifespan of a hip implant is between 15-20 years, younger candidates will need to consider whether the quality of life improvements and reduction in pain that come with a hip replacement outweigh the risk of needing revision surgery. If your level of pain is getting in the way of enjoying life, surgery might still be the right decision for you.

Older hip replacement patients

Older candidates will need to consider their current level of pain and decide if relieving pain is worth going through the recovery process.

Talk to a professional

If you’re concerned you may need hip surgery or have any questions at all about the process, we’re here to help.

A pre-operative consultation is our opportunity to ensure that the procedure for which you have been referred is right for you. We’ll explain your treatment and make sure that you are medically fit enough to proceed. It is also your opportunity to meet the team who will care for you and to ask any questions.