New research suggests that men and women fare differently in terms of their outcomes—such as pain, range of motion, and strength—following total hip arthroplasty surgery. Might rehabilitation programs based on one’s sex be far behind?

The study, from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, was presented recently at the American College of Rheumatology/ARHP Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

In their study, the researchers studied 124 individuals (average age: 61, mass index: 29, 64 were female) before and 1 year following total hip arthroplasty surgery.

They analyzed the patients’ walking mechanics using gait analysis, hip abductor strength through manual muscle testing, and function and pain using the Harris Hip Score survey. The researchers looked for statistical relationships between improvements in pain and function scores, and improvements in walking mechanics and muscle strength. Men and women were analyzed separately, and the results were compared, explains a media release from the American College of Rheumatology.

“Over the last five to 10 years, an increasing number of studies have suggested that women are at risk for poorer outcomes from total hip and knee replacement. There are many factors at play, and people are tackling this problem from many angles,” says Kharma C. Foucher, PhD, assistant professor of kinesiology and Nutrition at UIC and the study’s senior author, in the release.

“As a biomechanics researcher, I wanted to know whether or not any of the biomechanical differences between men and women could be coming into play,” she adds.

According to the results, there were indeed differences between men and women in terms of the biomechanical factors associated with pain and function improvements.

Women who reported better functional recovery (for example, ability to walk without a limp or put on socks and shoes with no difficulty) had more abductor strength improvement and better abductor function during walking. Such associations were not seen in men, but a few gait variables were associated with pain relief, per the release.

“We found that pre- to post-op changes in pain and function have different impact on abductor strength and gait mechanics in men and women,” Foucher notes, adding in the release that hip abductor strength and function were associated with improved, self-reported function in women, but not with men.

“It’s very important to note that we can’t determine cause and effect from this study design. But this is a hint that perhaps rehabilitation priorities should be different in men and women. It is possible that more focus on hip abductor strengthening will improve function in women, but may not be as critical in men. More studies are needed to establish cause and effect before we can make clinical recommendations,” she concludes.

[Source(s): American College of Rheumatology, Science Daily]