Can You Still Return to Sport After a Total Knee Replacement?

Total knee replacement is common in the young people, and a rising amount of older people are playing sport and sustaining sports injuries. These factors, along with improvements in life expectancy and in general health will likely require patients to undergo knee replacement, and question the chances of returning to sport.

Total Knee Replacement

A total knee replacement is a surgical procedure in which the diseased knee joint is replaced with an artificial joint made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics, and polymers. The aim of knee replacement is to relieve pain and restore function in severely diseased knee joints.

The thighbone (femur) is adjacent to the large bone of the lower leg (tibia) at the knee joint. During the procedure, the end of the femur is removed and replaced with a metal shell. The end of tibia is also removed and replaced with a channeled plastic piece with a metal stem. In some cases, a plastic “button” may also be included under the kneecap surface, depending on the condition of the kneecap. The artificial parts of a total knee replacement are referred to as prosthesis.

After a knee replacement, however, you will no longer be able to do strenuous activities, such as running and high-impact sports.

Sports Participation after Total Knee Replacement

Even though you will be able to resume most activities after knee replacement, you may have to avoid doing activities that are highly stressing to your “new” knee. Heavy sports have a negative impact after this kind of surgery. Strenuous activities may end up with acute injuries, such as prosthetic fractures and dislocations, as well as problems that caused by repetitive joint loading.

In a survey on 2085 patients with knee and joint replacement, 61% had returned to their sporting activities by 1 to 3 years after surgery and 26% were unable to return due to their knee replacement, with the most common reason being pain. In another study, patients were more likely to return to low-impact activities than to high-impact activities. 77% of patients who had participated in regular exercise in the year before the operation returned to sports.

The Importance of Physical Activity

Ideally, knee replacement allows you to have an active and healthy lifestyle. Once you’ve recovered enough, you can return to many activities that were too painful and difficult prior to the surgery. They will help strengthen your knee and make your knee more likely to function well for many years.

Being active is one of the most important things you can do to improve and maintain your overall being and quality of life. It helps you to feel better, physically and mentally, to stay independent and live longer, and to keep on doing things you enjoy.

Becoming active after total knee replacement is more important than ever. It should be part of your continued return to mobility. Following total knee replacement, patients are encouraged to resume an active lifestyle. However, it is not recommended that you do activities that produce high impact loads such as running and jumping. Sports such as golf, cycling, swimming, and walking may be acceptable. It is important to discuss with your physician or physiotherapist about the exact level of sport activity that is right for you.

How Physiotherapy Helps

To make patients better after surgery, they undergo rehabilitation. Rehabilitation begins as soon as possible after your operation. After you return to the ward, you will be assessed by a physiotherapist to check your capability of standing and taking few steps with your new knee with their help. It is important to move your knee to minimise stiffness, pain and swelling, and reduce the formation of scar tissue.

Recovery time varies differently for every person, depending on a number of factors. Usually, full recovery from total knee replacement takes 3 to 12 months.

The harder you work in rehabbing, the more likely you are to enjoy a faster and full recovery. And we are here to help. Call Happy Physio today at 9272 7359!