Billy Joel has two new hips!

Pop icon Billy Joel is recovering from having both hips replaced. The 61 year old Grammy winning singer-songwriting had both hips replaced last week to correct what was called “a congenital condition.” According to Joel’s spokesperson, Claire Mercuri, the “Piano Man”  is doing “extremely well.”  Joel had recently been finished a joint concert tour with Elton John, and was on a promotional tour for his documentary “The Last Play at Shea,” which tells of the singer’s relationship with Shea Stadium, including the final two concerts played there before the stadium was torn down in 2008. It is unknown when Joel will return to any of his current projects.

Hip replacement has been available since 1960, and with a series of surgical and technological improvements has become an increasingly effective treatment for hip pain. There are currently over 193,000 hip replacement procedures done in the US each year! The most common cause of hip pain leading to replacement is osteoarthritis, which is caused by wear and tear on the cartilage which lines the joint surface. Over time, this causes joint pain and stiffness. Initial treatment consists of anti-inflammatory pain relievers and physical therapy. However, when these measures are insufficient, hip replacement may be considered.

In hip replacement, the ball-shaped head of the thigh bone (femur) is removed, and replaced with an metal stem, and a new hip ball. The joint in the hip is also replaced with a cup-shaped socket. This socket is lined with a smooth plastic surface to allow the joint to move smoothly. The replacement parts can be made of a number of different materials, including ceramics, metal, or plastic. The materials used is dependent on the age of the patient and amount of physical activity the patient expects to do postoperatively.

Usually, people do not spend more than 3 to 5 days in the hospital after hip replacement surgery. Full recovery from the surgery takes about 3 to 6 months, depending on the type of surgery, the overall health of the patient, and the success of physical rehabilitation.

For more information on hip replacement, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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