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Good news: The number of young people getting hip replacements has spiked in recent years: In 2000, the average age was just over 66; in 2014, it was 64.9. In fact, between 2000 and 2010, the number of hip replacements in people age 45 to 54 more than tripled, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

But wait? Young people getting hip replacements is good news? Isn’t this a bad thing?

Actually, there’s a reason we can file this under progress. Before, younger people who needed hip replacements hit a roadblock. Because artificial hips had a shelf life of roughly a decade, doctors prescribed them primarily for elder patients (who put less wear-and-tear on their joints). This left younger folks without much recourse (and in pain).

Now, though, advances in joint replacement surgery are making hip replacements easier, more effective, and more practical for younger people.

Material advances
Before, artificial hips Implants were made of materials that didn’t last as long and were more prone to wear and tear. Now, though, hip implants are made with more durable materials, typically including a special type of plastic or ceramic. These new materials give hip replacements the ability to last 30 years or more.

This longevity is especially important, given how—compared to decades earlier—adults remain much more physically active.

Shorter recovery time
Today, some patients needing hip replacement may qualify for a less invasive procedure. Traditionally, such surgery required doctors to make long incisions that cut through muscle. With the more modern treatment, there’s less tissue cutting: Minimally invasive total hip replacement can be performed with either one or two small incisions. Also, refined surgical instruments allow for less invasion as well.

Known as anterior hip replacement, this muscle-sparing alternative can be a viable option for patients who need a total hip replacement. The benefits: faster recovery time; fewer post-operative complications; improved mobility; less pain; and lower hip dislocation rate.

This particular surgical technique is particularly demanding and requires special training. In fact, less than 10 percent of hip replacement patients in the United States currently receive their hip replacement using this anterior approach.

The less invasive surgery, incidentally, is particularly apt for patients who are younger and thinner, showing, again, why hip surgery is becoming a more attractive option for those shy of their golden years.

Looking forward, that option will be taken advantage of more and more. Currently, in the United States, an estimated 285,000 people undergo hip replacement each year. That number is forecasted to soar 171 percent by the year 2030, according to research conducted by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

No matter your age, if there’s a chance you need hip replacement, consult with the doctors at Memorial Healthcare System. Its team of highly skilled, board-certified orthopaedic surgeons can get you back on your feet.

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