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Work, Sex and Exercise After Hip Replacement

94% of patients returned to their job without any restrictions after surgery.

As hip replacement and resurfacing surgery advances, these procedures are increasingly being performed in younger and more active patients. And researchers, led by Washington University specialists at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, have a found that the vast majority of patients return to work, to a normal sex life and to other activities after hip replacement surgery.

Originally, hip replacement surgery was performed on older, sedentary patients who didn’t make many demands on their new hip. Due to the overwhelming success and longevity of hip replacement, surgery patients are now younger and more active, and they have questions about recovery that wouldn’t often have been asked 10 or 20 years ago.

“They want to know when they can go back to work, whether they can do their same jobs and whether they might face limitations,” says Ryan Nunley, MD, a Washington University orthopedic surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “And we didn’t really know the answers.”


So Nunley’s team followed more than 900 patients who had either hip replacement surgery or hip resurfacing at Barnes-Jewish and five other centers around the country. Patients’ average age was 49, and all were at least a year out from surgery when they were surveyed.

“Ninety-four percent of patients returned to their job without any restriction, even among the people who did heavy manual labor,” Nunley says. “Most people can go back to a sedentary job in six to eight weeks. For manual labor, it’s more like eight to 12 weeks.”

Nunley’s team also found that 90 percent resume sexual activity after surgery, and many report more frequent, better sex. Among those undergoing hip resurfacing, the vast majority can return to high-impact exercise—such as running, contact sports or martial arts—at six months.

Three papers that have emerged from this research project have earned Nunley a trio of awards this year: the Rand Award from the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, the Marshall Urist Young Investigator Award from the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons and the Orthopaedic Research Education Fund/Current Concepts in Joint Replacement Award.

To refer a patient for orthopedic care or hip replacement, call 314-514-3500.

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