Joint replacement therapy may be the hip thing to do

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Seniors who undergo surgical joint replacement therapy for severe osteoarthritis of the hip or knee fare better in the long term than those who receive non-surgical therapy, according to new research.

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston followed 174 seniors with osteoarthritis aged 65 and over for 12 months. During that time, 29% of patients received joint-replacement therapy. Those patients required an average of 12 days to regain independent walking ability and seven weeks to be able to sufficiently perform household chores, according to the report.

Despite the lengthy recovery time, surgical patients improved 24 points on a standard osteoarthritis function test compared with just a 0.5-point improvement in non-surgical patients. Researchers say this study should help inform potential joint replacement therapy patients of the risks and rewards of the procedure. The results are published in the July 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.