Hip Replacement

A new study has revealed that hip replacements improve quality of life, but not activity levels. Published within the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, the results raise concerns over physical behaviour following the procedure.

Here, we’ll look at what the study found, and why maintaining mobility is important for best results.

Understanding the latest study

The prospective study was carried out by the University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide. It included a total of 51 patients, with an average age of 66. Each had undergone a total hip arthroplasty using the same technique, as well as the same type of implant.

Before they underwent the procedure, they were assessed for the function of the joint, any hip-related symptoms, and for quality of life. They also participated in a gait analysis, alongside musculoskeletal modelling. This helped to give the researchers an in-depth knowledge of their biomechanics and walking performance.

A subgroup of patients had to undergo activity monitoring and gait analysis one year, and two years after the surgery. At each appointment, patients reported improvements in pain, hip function, and in their general quality of life. However, their activity levels according to the 24-hour activity tracker, showed very little or no change. On average, patients were asleep or sedentary for around 19.5 hours each day.

In some cases, patients were more sedentary after the hip replacement. This leads to concern over continued mobility.

The importance of keeping mobile after a hip replacement

The latest findings are concerning given how important it is for patients to keep active after undergoing a hip replacement. Just some of the benefits keeping active will provide include:

  • Increased muscle strength
  • Better cardiovascular fitness
  • Improved balance and flexibility
  • Psychological benefits

It is important to keep active after any surgery. When the body is sedentary for long periods of time, it can cause the joints to stiffen. This would greatly impact mobility, preventing you from leading a more active lifestyle.

Keeping moving after a hip replacement also helps to build up the muscles around the joint. This helps to keep it in position and prevents pain and discomfort. Staying active will also improve your mood and improve your overall fitness. Staying active in older life is essential for wellbeing.

What is stopping patients from being more mobile?

There are a couple of reasons why activity levels don’t increase after undergoing a hip replacement. Many patients have a concern about over-exercising on the new joint. They don’t want to derail their recovery or place too much pressure on the artificial joint.
Another potential reason could be that consultants often caution against doing too much too soon. This can lead to a misunderstanding over how much activity they should do.

If you are due to undergo a hip replacement, staying active is crucial. If you’re unsure how much activity you should be doing, talk to your surgeon. They will be able to advise you of the best ways to maintain mobility moving forward.