London | Hip replacement surgery may not improve a person’s physical activity levels, according to a new study which questions the purpose of the common operation in patients.
Total hip replacement is one of the most common elective operations, with more than 620,000 procedures performed in the UK from 2003-2013.
The most prevalent cause for needing surgery is osteoarthritis (93 per cent).
The study by researchers at University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK is the first systematic review specifically to examine the differences in physical activity pre compared to post-surgery hip replacement.
“The most common reason for a hip replacement is to reduce pain on movement. We expected that the amount of physical activity post-surgery would therefore increase. What we found surprised us,” said lead researcher Tom Withers from UEA.
“Our study looked at data from about 1,030 patients who had received hip replacements. Indicators for physical activity after surgery included whether patients were walking longer distances, walking more quickly, cycling and climbing stairs,” said Withers.
“We found that there was no clear evidence of a change in physical activity following surgery. 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,” said Withers.
The study used existing research papers measuring pre- and post-operative measures of physical activity.
“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,” said Toby Smith, from UEA.
“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 said.
The study was published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation.
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