There’s been a lot of talk about hormone replacement therapy and whether it’s safe for women as they go through the menopausal transition. But new research indicates that this type of therapy actually may benefit women in other ways beyond hot flashes.
A new study out of England looked at whether the use of hormone replacement therapy had any effect on the need for repeat surgeries after replacing hip or knee joints in older women. The researchers analyzed data from approximately 25,000 women who were at least 40 years of age and who had a hip or knee replaced. Of this group, approximately 21,000 had not taken hormone replacement therapy after having the surgery. The remaining participants used the therapy for at least six months after having their joint replaced.
The researchers found that participants who used the hormone replacement therapy for six months following the surgery were 38 percent less like to have to undergo a second replacement surgery. Furthermore, participants who took the therapy for at least a year following the surgery were 50 percent less likely to have their new joint replaced during the following three years. Interestingly, the study found that taking hormone replacement therapy before surgery made no difference.
The research gives doctors an important addition to their toolkit as they treat older women because of the anticipated spike in the need for these types of surgeries. Time reported in 2008 that experts project that the number of surgical knee replacements completed in the United States will increase by 525 percent by the year 2030. Furthermore, the number of hip replacements is anticipated to jump from 285,000 during 2008 to 573,000 in 2030. Experts believe that these surgeries will be a result of the aging population, increased arthritis (especially osteoarthritis), obesity, increased demand by younger patients, as well as greater skill of surgeons in completing this procedure.
So should you talk to your health care provider about taking hormone replacement therapy if you’re going to have this type of surgery? Possibly so. Many of the health experts that I’ve interviewed and articles I’ve read suggest that this therapy may be helpful as long as women are taking the lowest dosage of hormone replacement therapy for the shortest amount of time necessary. However, that is a decision that you need to make in consultation with your doctor based on your specific case.
With that said, there are some things to consider about joint replacement. While the surgery has a very high success rate, Healthinaging.org warns that some risks, including joint infection, exist. Furthermore, there can be a lengthy recovery period following this type of surgery.
If you’re considering this type of surgery and are worried about hormone replacement therapy, there are some other steps you can take to make this type of surgery easier. These steps can include:
- Check with your doctor to see whether you’re a candidate for a less-invasive form of this surgery. This type of surgery involves fewer and smaller incisions. This surgery -- which is primarily recommended for people who are healthier, in better shape and younger -- requires shorter hospital stays and has a shorter recovery period.
- Lose some weight. Prior to the surgery, you may be asked to lose some weight since having extra pounds can slow your recovery process after surgery. You also should talk to your medical team about what specific types of exercises can help you prepare for the surgery and also speed your recovery process.
- Refocus your diet. Preparing for Surgery’s website encourages you to consider your diet as an important part of both your preoperative and postoperative routines. For instance, prior to surgery, you should make changes that include increasing your protein intake from high quality sources as well as foods that are high in fiber, essential fatty acids and calcium. Furthermore, you should avoid eating a lot of sweets, baked goods, high-saturated fatty foods and dairy products prior to surgery. Also, try to eat a lighter diet in the days leading up to the surgery and avoid consuming coffee as well as alcohol. After surgery, you need to eat light meals that are low-fat. Start adding fresh and nutritious foods as well as protein as you begin your recovery. You also should try to drink 64-ounces of fluids daily after surgery, unless your doctor recommends otherwise.
Hormone replacement therapy can offer some support for older women if they’re facing joint replacement surgery. But realize that it’s just one in a number of health tools in your arsenal. Working with your doctor, you can determine which ones to use and the best course to take to help you through surgery.
Primary Source for This Sharepost:
Healthinaging.org. (2009). Older person’s guide to joint replacement.
Prieto-Alhambra, D., et al. (2013). Hormone replacement therapy and mid-term implant survival following knee or hip arthroplasty for osteoarthritis: a population-based cohort study. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
Preparing for Surgery. (ND). Nutrition and surgery. Online course.
Wallis, C. (2008). Joint replacements expected to soar. Time.
Published On: February 04, 2014