Joint-replacement surgery may allow return to sports

By Tom Nordlie • Published: February 11th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Decades ago, people with arthritic hips and knees had no choice but to endure pain and reduced mobility.

That’s changed.

With joint-replacement surgery, arthritis sufferers can pursue many everyday activities in comfort.

But for some, just getting around isn’t enough. They want to resume playing their favorite sports.

The big question is, can they do it?

According to a review article published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the answer is “maybe.”

The authors examined numerous postoperative studies.

Unfortunately, the research was typically conducted for short durations, on small groups of people.

The results were mixed. So there are no clear guidelines to help patients form realistic expectations.

For example, two studies on avid tennis players showed that all of them returned to competition after joint replacement.

But other studies showed that patients were significantly less likely to participate in sports afterward.

What’s more, the consequences to the implants haven’t been explored.

Some doctors believe that intense physical activity may damage artificial joints.

One thing is certain… these questions won’t go away.

Between 2005 and 2030, U-S hip-replacement operations are expected to increase from about two-hundred-thousand to almost a half-million.

Knee replacements will increase from about a half-million to three-point-five-million.

So, well-designed, long-term studies are needed.

Our best advice?

If you get a new joint and want to resume playing sports, talk to your doctor.

She can offer personalized advice and track your progress.

That may be all you need to stay at the top of your game.