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Hip Surgery In Young Patients

Mike King, 39, is a stockbroker, and a father of four. After playing hockey throughout high school and college, his body took a beating. He paid for it with nearly two decades of chronic hip pain from osteoarthritis, reports Correspondent Mary Robb Jackson of CBS News affiliate KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh.

"Just on a day-to-day basis, I probably took about three or four different painkillers, just to get through a normal day, so it wasn't a lot of fun," King says.

About eight months ago, Mike decided to have a total hip replacement at Sewickley Valley Hospital in the Pittsburgh area.

"You definitely stick out in the recovery room that's filled with a bunch of 80-year-olds," he says.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James D'Antonio is seeing more patients who need joint replacement at much younger ages. Some of the cases he sees are the results of trauma from too much vigorous exercise.

"I think it's in part due to today's lifestyles," he says.

Researchers are currently studying better implants that last longer. A new, improved "ceramic" hip prosthestic is promising better benefits for younger patients.

"The problem is within the past several years we have been reluctant to put implants into young patients because of a high failure rate," says D'Antonio.

"We know a lot about ceramics," he says. "They've been used for about thirty years. The big advantage today is the quality of the ceramics has been improved and the prosthestics that we put the ceramics onto have been improved."

The new ceramic device appears to offer more than the 10-15 year lifespan of metal and plastic replacements currently in use.

"If we can eliminate the wear I think we can extend the life of total hips to twenty-plus years," D'Antonio says.

King hopes his experimental state-of-the-art ceramic hip will help stay active for years to come.

"I'm so much more active now. I have my energy level back, the painkillers had a tendency to sap your energy, now I feel like I have life back again," King says.