I had a hip resurfacing surgery done about nine months ago. I feel fit as a fiddle and would like to put it to the test. Can I run on this thing? What are other people doing?
Hip resurfacing arthroplasty is a type of hip replacement that replaces the arthritic surface of the joint but removes far less bone than the traditional total hip replacement. Because the hip resurfacing removes less bone, it may be preferable for younger patients. It is an attractive option for those who want to stay active.
Most of the time, patients who have this procedure are able to regain hip motion fairly quickly. Walking and stair climbing (up and down) are possible before going home from the hospital. After a short rehabilitation program under the supervision of a physical therapist, patients are usually on their own to continue advancing their activity level.
Sports activity without any restrictions are usually possible six to eight weeks after the procedure. By now (nine months later), you could be back to your preoperative level of activity. Some people are indeed running up to four hours a week after this procedure.
But beware: common sense and logic tells us that repeated movements and pounding the pavement with a hip replacement (or hip resurfacing) may not be such a good idea. It is believed that the metal-polyethylene bearings of the implant will break down with increased pressure and load that comes with activity.
Some experts are questioning if this assumption really true. What evidence do we have that running activity after hip resurfacing is a bad idea? The first study to look at this more closely has been published. Surgeons from the Department of Sports Medicine at the University of Lille in France studied 40 of their patients who were runners and who received a hip resurfacing procedure.
By measuring the amount of time spent running, level of impact, their weekly mileage, and return to sports competition, they offer us the first look into running activity after this procedure. Symptoms such as stiffness, pain, and weakness were also evaluated. Follow-up took place over the months to years after the procedure (a minimum of two years, up to 41 months).
The younger patients (50 years old and younger) were able to maintain their same level of running after surgery as before. Some runners were even able to run competitively once again. Older patients were more likely to report a decrease in their weekly mileage. Seven of the 40 patients also commented that they felt nervous or apprehensive during sports. A few patients had pain only during activity but not intense enough to need pain medications.
The authors of this study point out that newer implants are less likely to fracture or break with weight-bearing load. Hip resurfacing gives the hip higher wear resistance. More than ever before, these new implants make it possible for patients to resume low to medium level impact sports.
The results of this study suggest that high-impact activities are also possible. Of course, this was a short-to mid-term length study. Long-term results will tell the rest of the story. Patients will be better able to make decisions about the level of physical activity they want to pursue after hip resurfacing when they know what to expect over the entire life of the implant.
For now, caution is advised when counseling patients regarding activity level, intensity, and level of impact. Before engaging in any new activity of this type, see your surgeon and find out what are his or her recommendations. Perhaps discuss the findings of this study and work with your surgeon and the supervision of a physical therapist to design an exercise program that is best for you. You do want your new hip to last a very long time with the least amount of restriction on what you want to do.
Nicolas Fouilleron, MD, et al. Running Activity After Hip Resurfacing Arthroplasty. A Prospective Study. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. April 2012. Vol. 40. No. 4. Pp. 889-894.
*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.