Following my earlier “Bluebirds” post I have gone back to my surgeon to seek further advice on the possibility of running again following my THR in January 2021.
Below is my surgeon’s response (in italics), which is pretty conclusive;-
(I have highlighted in bold 2 parts which I feel are quite defining)
I would welcome any further comments/responses from anyone (especially from Petemeads / Coddfish / Cityofsmokingjoe who have kindly posted previously on my earlier thread) as this has left me very disappointed and dis-heartened.
I have taken a few days to examine the evidence and also speak with some respected experienced hip replacement colleagues regarding running after hip replacement.
Unfortunately, as discussed with you before surgery, it is not something we can encourage. The hip replacement mechanism is not designed to withstand the repeated axial loading that the running action will create. The materials are not tested to be resilient to that action and there is severe risk of reducing the lifespan of the replacement or what is more likely is causing a sudden failure such as fracture of the stem or cracking/fracture of the polyethylene liner or ceramic head or even dislodgement of the socket in the pelvis. The materials used in your hip are a ceramic on polyethylene bearing, an uncemented socket and a cemented stem. However, there would be no brand or type of fixation that would be advisable to run on regularly. That is not to say that some patients do run on their hip replacement, in fact it looks like about 10% of previous runners return to running but that is very much at their peril I would say.
The implants are only really tested for back and forward rotational cycles on the hip articulation rather than a pounding, loading action similar to running.
We have seen examples of the fracture of ceramic heads, fracture of the plastic liner or dislodgement of the socket in the pelvis from non-running injuries. These type of failures cannot be monitored with yearly x-rays as they occur as a sudden, unpredictable event. In fact, I don’t believe there will be much benefit in looking at a yearly x-ray to see if running is causing any wear or damage as the differences between years would be almost negligible on review x-rays.
In your case, we are hoping to have a replacement that lasts about 20 years if possible to minimise the number of operations you need in your lifetime. The consequences of early failure would be earlier surgery, each time becoming less successful because more bone is sacrificed and scar tissue develops, muscle deteriorates, infection and dislocation risks increase and there may come a time in your life where subsequent reconstructions become technically impossible.
So it remains my view and that of my colleagues that regular running is really an activity beyond what a total hip replacement should tolerate and there are great risks to the lifespan and consequences for you in the future if you wish to return to running.
I am sorry that it is not the news you were hoping I could give you.
Ultimately the decision is up to you and I am glad that the hip feels good enough that you are considering it.