Osteoporosis and Hip Replacement Surgery

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.

Join the Conversation


  1. My 86 yr old father has had 3 hip replacements. These replacements do not hold due to weakness of the hip bone. Now he is in great pain and his qualify of life has almost . diminished. His doctor is reluctent to operate again, however, his cardiologist insist he may live for at least another 10 years. Is there a way to secure the hip in order to hold the ball in place?

  2. I am replying to you as a patient not as a doctor, but this is what I learned from my doctor and other patients in my support group.

    I am so sorry to know about your father’s condition. It is unfortunate that once the bones are in this condition there is not much to be done. The only possibility is more chips to support the femur, but if his doctor is reluctant to do it I assume that the femur bone is too fragile to take any more holes and chips. Trust his doctor in that, but you still can get a second opinion.

    Please feel free to update us, and welcome to our community.

  3. I have osteoporosis and am looking at having hip replacement because I am bone on bone. I am working with an excellent doctor preparing for this procedure. I am nervous because of my condition. I do not take any of the osteoporosis drugs because I have received negative information and cautions from dentists. Can you elaborate on any of this for me so that I can make an informed choice? Thank you.

  4. Hi Marsha
    As I stated above I am not a practicing doctor. I am a patient with a degree in biology.
    Since you trust your doctor and he/she advised you to go with the hip replacement then this is your best choice.
    At this point, when we have brittle, fragile bones, we just try to balance as much as we could, but at the end there’s always that one thing we can not preserve. If my teeth will be the victim and at the same time I’ll be more immune to fractures due to sneezing or coughing as I am right now, I’ll go with the “less fractures” option and hope for the best regarding my teeth. It’s not fun at all to have a broken rib. I would go for 3 days without any coughing or sneezing and doing my best to avoid them, but once it happens I break the same rib again and go through the same pain and the healing process gets extended with every sneeze.
    You are the only one who can make the decision, I just shared my experience, and I am not sure if I would make the same decision once I am there!
    I hope your femur holds the new hip for a long time to come and give you the freedom to move without the bone on bone pain.

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