Osteoporosis is a very common condition, affecting more than 25 million Americans. It is especially prominent in women over the age of 50, but 10 to 15 percent of men over 70 are also affected. Characterized by loss of bone density and strength, osteoporosis causes brittle, weak bones that are easily broken. The most common fractures in osteoporosis sufferers are in the wrist, spine and hip. When hip fractures or joint deterioration happen due to osteoporosis, hip replacement is often necessary.
Osteoporosis and Hip Fractures
Osteoporosis is a marked loss of bone mass, resulting in porous and brittle bones. Bones go through a process called remodeling constantly throughout our lives. This process breaks down bone tissue and rebuilds it on a regular basis. Early in life, that remodeling process is very efficient, building more new bone than is broken down, but once a person reaches their mid-30s, new bone growth slows. In osteoporosis, that new bone growth slows to the point that bone tissue is broken down faster than it is replaced, leading to a steady decline in bone health.
Weakened bones become more prone to breakage, making everyday incidents that would typically cause simple bruising a hazard for bone fractures. Among the most common osteoporosis-related fractures are hip fractures, which are always very serious events and often life-changing ones.
Hip fracture almost always requires surgical intervention, which can range from repairing the natural joint to partial or total hip replacement. Joint replacement is typically done when the type of fracture or degenerative changes in the joint make repairing the natural bone impractical.
Hip Replacement Surgery
In 2010, hip replacement procedures numbered more than 458,000 in the United States. Since most of these procedures are done in people over the age of 65, many involved osteoporosis damage and hip fracture. While this surgery has become fairly routine and is among the most successful orthopaedic procedures, it is still major surgery and does involve risk.
In recent years, risk of complications with hip replacement has been a bit higher due to faulty hip implant systems, several of which have been recalled. The most recent recall involved the Stryker Rejuvenate implant, which was pulled from the U.S. market by the manufacturer in July 2012. Stryker has since discontinued the production and sale of these implants globally.
The Stryker Rejuvenate implant was plagued with some of the same issues that caused the recall of several metal-on-metal hip replacement systems over the last few years, including metallic contamination from implant debris.
That contamination can cause a serious condition called metallosis, which can lead to severe inflammation and pain at the implant site as metal particles collect in the soft tissues, as well as tissue death and bone loss. Revision surgeries are done in many of these patients to replace faulty implants and repair joint damage. This type of trouble can be particularly hard on joints affected by osteoporosis, so reviewing all available options to ensure the safest and most durable implant is used is very important. This also ensures that the patient won’t have to file a hip lawsuit, due to the expensive revision procedures.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.