Jeff Stewart, 43, a house painter and former high school and college athlete, remembers the exact moment his hip gave out: Valentine's Day 2006. "I bent down to paint something low. When I got up, my hip never stopped hurting until I woke up from surgery in January 2007," he said. The pain, due to an anatomical abnormality made worse by years of wear and tear, was so bad that sometimes all he could do was lie on his recliner and watch TV: "When you are in so much pain, your life is reduced to that."
But like a growing number of young, active people, Stewart eschewed the gold-standard treatment -- total hip replacement surgery -- in favor of a new procedure that, propelled by aggressive marketing featuring vigorous, youngish athletes, is sweeping the U.S.: hip resurfacing. The main claim for hip resurfacing is that it can preserve more of the thigh bone, making any subsequent surgery more feasible if the initial repair wears out.