New technique for hip replacing gets people moving faster

One-hundred-twenty-thousand people will have a hip replaced this year.

That's 10,000 people a month who are suffering with a pain so bad it hurts when they walk, or even move their joints.

The pain became so intense for Karen McKinzie, 61, even her 85-year-old mother could walk faster than she could.

"It made me feel old and tired," McKinzie said.

Karen lived with the pain for years. Finally, diagnosed with osteoarthritis, her doctor suggested a new type of hip replacement.

It's called anterior hip replacement. Traditionally, surgeons removed the arthritic hip by cutting into the side or back of the hip.

"The disadvantage in that is that tendons and muscles have to be cut in order to access the hip joint; that leads to more pain and also it leads to a risk of the hip dislocating after surgery," explained Dr. Steven Sanders.

Now, surgeons approach the hip from the front side without cutting any muscles or tendons, reducing recovery time from six weeks to ten days.

A day after surgery Karen was walking, even planning her training schedule for her first 5K.

"I feel younger now than I did several years ago."

Another benefit to this approach -- is that with conventional hip replacement surgery, there are strict precautions after surgery for movement which slows recovery.

But with the anterior approach, patients are allowed to bend their hip freely and can bear full weight almost immediately.

This also helps speed up recovery time and helps patients return to normal function faster.

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BACKGROUND: Hip replacement, also called total hip arthroplasty, is a surgical procedure to replace a worn out or damaged hip with prosthesis (an artificial joint). This surgery may be considered following a hip fracture (breaking of the bone) or for someone who has severe pain due to arthritis. (SOURCE:

WHY IT'S DONE: The goal of hip replacement surgery is to relieve pain and increase the mobility and function of a damaged hip joint. Conditions that can damage the hip joint, sometimes necessitating hip replacement surgery, include:
* Osteoarthritis
* Rheumatoid arthritis
* Broken hip
* Bone tumor
* Osteonecrosis

LATEST TECHNOLOGY: Every year more than a quarter of a million Americans have total hip replacement surgery. It's almost always a successful operation that frees patients from what's often described as disabling pain. But in recent years, there's been lots of discussion about "anterior approach" hip replacement, a surgical technique that's different than the standard procedure. It's one that proponents say can lead to quicker recovery, three to four weeks compared to six to eight weeks for typical surgery. The Anterior Approach to hip replacement surgery allows the surgeon to reach the hip joint from the front of the hip as opposed to the lateral (side) or the posterior (back) approach. This way, the hip can be replaced without detachment of muscle from the pelvis or femur during surgery. (SOURCE:;

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Susan Hall
Baylor Health Care System

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