As people’s mobility and activity levels increase following knee replacement surgery, they may be putting themselves at risk for hip or spinal fractures down the line, a study suggests.

The study, published recently in the journal Osteoporosis International and presented recently at the annual meeting of the International Osteoporosis Foundation, was led by CH Vala of the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden, and involved the medical records of Swedes born between 1902 and 1952.

According to the medical records, dating from 1987 to 2002, more than 3,200 Swedes had a total knee replacement and a subsequent hip fracture, explains a media release from the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

The study notes that patients who had undergone a total knee replacement due to osteoarthritis had a low risk of hip and spinal fractures in the decade before the surgery.

However, following the knee replacement surgery, patients’ risk of hip fracture rose 4% and their risk of spinal fracture rose 19%, compared to patients who did not undergo the knee replacement surgery, per the release.

“The increasing risk for hip and vertebral fracture in the 10 years after knee replacement may be explained by pain, increase of physical activity due to rehabilitation, and other biomechanical factors,” Vala states in the release.

In an interview for HealthDay regarding the study, Caroline Messer, MD, who specializes in bone loss at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, states that while the exact reason for the increased fracture risk isn’t clear, it is most likely due to improved mobility and activity as a result of the knee replacement surgery.

“In addition,” she adds, “patients who chose to have the surgery rather than conservative management of osteoarthritis may have been the same individuals who were determined to lead very active and therefore somewhat riskier lifestyles in the future.”

Stressing that the study wasn’t designed to determine cause and effect, Messer states that she “would certainly recommend further research before concluding that total knee replacement is a risk factor for future fractures.”

[Source(s): International Osteoporosis Foundation, HealthDay]