Just ask Jack Nicklaus, the legendary golfer whose hip first began to bother him after an injury in 1963. Although physical therapy exercises and dozens of cortisone shots kept his pain under enough control for Nicklaus to win more than 100 tournaments, they were not a permanent solution.
In 1999, at the relatively young age of 59, Nicklaus had hip replacement surgery that enabled him to resume an active life free from debilitating pain—not only on simple trips to the grocery store, but on the golf course and tennis court as well.
But you don’t have to be a professional athlete to suffer hip problems.
Some sports like basketball and tennis involve a lot of running and jumping, and can put you at a higher risk of injuring your hips. High-intensity exercise at the gym, including running on treadmills and spinning, also wears down cartilage and reduces joint function.
For athletes, as well as many other people, higher activity levels and weight problems are resulting in severe hip pain at earlier and earlier ages. When exercises, pain relievers and lifestyle changes are not enough, a hip replacement might be the best option.
Improvements to Implant Technology Mean an Improved Quality of Life
In recent years, joint replacement technology has made huge improvements.
Hip replacement surgery is now becoming an option for middle-aged people, and many are able to return to active lifestyles that were once impossible.
Researchers also found that hip replacements are vastly more functional. In one case, a 48-year-old patient participated in tournament-level beach volleyball after surgery, while another returned to work as a Pilates instructor at the age of 43.
Such an intense level of activity after surgery carries some risks, but moderate levels of sports or exercise are helpful to keep the joint from loosening and to increase muscle coordination.
Problems with Hip Replacements
Unfortunately, not every hip replacement is safe and effective.
Athletes – and anyone who is considering hip replacement surgery – should be aware that all implants are not created equal. In the last few years, tens of thousands of implants have been recalled after patients suffered injuries.
Anyone considering hip replacement surgery should speak to a doctor about the safest implant choice. If you already had hip replacement surgery, you may want to check your medical records to make sure that your implant isn’t among the recalled devices.
Linda Grayling is a writer for Drugwatch.com, a consumer advocacy website. She stays up to speed on the latest medical news, including recalls and clinical trials.