Total hip arthroplasty is a very successful procedure for patients with hip arthritis who have failed conservative management. Hip replacement aims to relieve pain and restore function and motion of the joint. If you are considering total hip arthroplasty, you should speak with your surgeon regarding what types of physical activities and sports are safe and realistic after surgery.
While traditionally, hip replacement surgery was performed in an older and less active patient population, in part because of improvements in surgical technique and implant materials used in today’s surgery, total hip arthroplasty is being performed in a younger and more active patient population with greater expectations for a more active lifestyle.
Unfortunately, when patients are involved in high-impact activities, the hip joint, and therefore the implants, experience much greater forces than they would with normal activity. These increased forces may cause accelerated wear of the implants which can potentially lead to implant loosening and the need for revision surgery. You should discuss your desired physical activity goals with your surgeon BEFORE SURGERY to ensure that they are safe.
The American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (AAHKS) has the following recommendations:
Stay active after surgery
Physical activity is great for your overall health. It has been shown to have a positive impact on your cardiovascular system, overall strength and endurance, and stress and anxiety levels. It is recommended that you try to return to your previous physical activity level and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Know your body and have realistic expectations
After a hip replacement, you should be able to continue the activities that you were involved in prior to surgery with less pain and stiffness. It does not mean that you should expect to participate in more strenuous activities that you did not perform prior to surgery.
AAHKS recommends patients begin to return to sport within the first three months after surgery. Multiple studies have shown that the majority fully returned to pre-surgical sports within 4-6 months after hip replacement surgery.
Which sports are okay?
Low-impact sports are recommended, medium-impact sports should be approached with caution, and high-impact sports should be avoided. These recommendations are based on our knowledge that the wear rates of the hip replacement materials are a function of patient activity level and joint loading. Running, for example, places a large amount of stress on the implants and may lead to implants loosening over time. If there is any question, we recommend being cautious and protective of your hip replacement Implants | Hip and Knee Care (aahks.org)
Talk to your doctor
Talk to your surgeon about your goals and expectations after surgery to gain a better understanding if these are in line with their recommendations.
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This article has been written by Alexandra Stavrakis, MD in collaboration with and the AAHKS Patient and Public Relations Committee and the AAHKS Evidence Based Medicine Committee. Links to these pages or content used from the articles must be given proper citation to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons.