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Big rise in hip replacements over last decade

Published on 03 March 2016

Doctors looking at x-raysNHS data has shown that the number of hip replacement operations on people aged under 60 has risen 76% in the last decade.

More and more people under the age of 60 are turning to hip replacement surgery as a remedy for chronic hip pain, according to new NHS data.

The Royal College of Surgeons has analysed statistics released by the Health & Social Care Information Centre showing that hip replacements are becoming more common among younger patients, which is indicative of growing confidence in this type of treatment.

The growing demand for hip replacements

According to the data, there were 89,919 hip replacement operations conducted through the NHS in England in 2004–05, but this number rose by 47% to 122,154 in 2014–15.

When looking specifically at people under the age of 60, the speed of this growth was even more pronounced. Whereas 10,145 hip replacements were recorded for patients aged 59 and below in 2004–05, this had increased to 17,883 a decade later.

It represents a rise of 76%, suggesting surgical treatment for hip problems is no longer seen as an option only for older patients.

An increasingly beneficial treatment strategy

Stephen Cannon, vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons, said this trend reflects the growing availability of improved hip replacement techniques and prosthetics, which means surgeries are now safer and require less recovery time.

In the past, typical prosthetics lasted only around 15 years before needing replacement but can now be used for upwards of 20 years, meaning younger patients can have them fitted without needing to worry about needing repeated revisions.

Mr Cannon said: "Chronic hip pain can have a devastating effect on quality of life and the ability to remain active. People don't want to live with this pain if they can confidently undergo a hip replacement that's successful and lasts. It's no longer seen as a last resort.

"Confidence in the longevity of new prosthetics among surgeons will also be contributing to the increase in replacements."

'Arthritis epidemic'

Commenting on the findings, Olivia Belle, our director of external affairs, said: "These statistics highlight the unacceptable reality that 10 million people are living with the pain and disability of arthritis in the UK today.

"While it's good news that advances in techniques have made joint replacements more readily available for people living with osteoarthritis, we know the number of people developing this condition is set to rise.

"Arthritis has a huge impact on people’s quality of life, stopping them from staying active and independent, and preventing them from doing even simple tasks we take for granted. Without real concerted effort from local and national government the number of people developing this condition will sky-rocket due to an increasing ageing population and rising levels of obesity combined with low levels of physical activity.

"Political action is needed to tackle these last two issues to avoid an arthritis epidemic, which will have major consequences for our health services and our economy."

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