The study also looked at changes in people’s activity limitations, which is their ability to do daily tasks like walking, climbing steps, getting in and out of a car and putting their shoes and socks on. For primary THA patients, four percent with moderate preoperative limitation and 17 percent with severe limitations reported still having severe limitations after two years. Severe limitations with walking for example meant only being able to walk indoors or still being unable to walk. Those numbers moved up to seven percent and 20 percent at five years – but that means 80 percent reported improvements in their abilities to do daily tasks.

For revision THA patients, 10 percent with moderate preoperative limitation and 26 percent with severe limitations reported severe limitations after two years. Those numbers moved up to 13 percent and 30 percent after five years. But again – that means 70 percent were doing well.

“That’s pretty encouraging,” says Dr. Singh, adding that he hopes this information helps patients better understand what they can expect after undergoing this surgery.

“I think people already have faith in the surgery,” Dr. Singh says. “But perhaps this is information they can use to have conversations with their surgeons to make best the decisions for themselves when taking into account risks and benefits.”

Michael M. Alexiades, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, says this study is especially encouraging because it analyzes data on procedures done by a variety of surgeons using different kinds of implants. “It’s nice to see a study where it’s not one surgeon’s results using one particular implant,” Dr. Alexiades says. “Overall this shows hip replacement is a very successful procedure and it’s gratifying to see it.”

Dr. Alexiades says these results are also important because they show there is a solution to the severe, often debilitating pain that accompanies hip arthritis and keeps people from taking part in daily living including playing with grandchildren, enjoying retirement or working to provide for their families.

“Hip arthritis, when it gets bad, gets exceedingly painful where you have pain 24/7 – even at night. That tends to be one of the more painful times. So a lot of things get disrupted: normal daily activities, sleep activity, you get very irritable, and your brain functions differently,” Dr. Alexiades says. “Your whole life really changes around that arthritic hip and what this study shows is a hip replacement is very effective at eliminating that pain for a prolonged period of time.”

Dr. Alexiades says he hopes to see research looking at even longer-term effects of THA. “Even two and five years are not long-term enough for us. We want to know 10-year and 20-year and even 30-year data because so many [younger] people are getting joint replacements,” Dr. Alexiades says.