A recent study has cast doubt on how much hip replacement surgeries improve patients’ quality of life.
Conducted by researchers at the University of East Anglia in England, the study examined data from 1,030 hip replacement patients and looked at the following indicators: whether patients were walking longer distances, walking more quickly, cycling, or climbing stairs.
To the researchers’ surprise, the evidence suggested that there was no upward tick in physical activity post-op.
The rate of hip replacement surgeries has skyrocketed in recent years. One study found that between 2010-2010, the number of hip replacements in the U.S. more than doubled. Patients between 45 and 54 years old represented the biggest increase of any age group. Another study from 2014 estimated that about 2.5 million Americans are living with an artificial hip.
Most patients elect for a replacement to ease pain related to osteoarthritis. But, in this sample at least, the researchers said that pain relief wasn’t resulting in more exercise — a fact that could have implications on doctors’ approach to long-term post-op care.
“The benefits of regular physical activity following a hip replacement are well known, so this research is important for healthcare professionals because it suggests that patients need to be encouraged to be more physically active,” Tom Withers, from UEA’s School of Health Sciences, says.
The study was published in the most recent issue of Clinical Rehabilitation.
The authors say there is a strong need for further research on the issue.
“The lack of significant difference in physical activity after patients undergo such a common procedure suggests there is a need for further research, including further investigation into how other personal characteristics or pre-existing conditions might also influence the results,” Toby Smith, lecturer in physiotherapy in UEA’s School of Health Sciences, says.
“Healthcare professionals and researchers need to better understand this lack of change and how patient’s perceptions of physical activity might be modified to increase their engagement in physical activity post-operatively,” Smith says.