What types of activities can I resume after total hip replacement surgery?

Most patients resume normal, active lifestyles after total hip replacement. In fact, activity levels often improve due to absence of the arthritic hip pain and stiffness. Most activities are felt acceptable after total hip replacement surgery, and can generally be resumed at 6 weeks after surgery. Start slowly, and then progress as your body and common sense allow. Walking, swimming, cycling, cross-country skiing, golf, doubles tennis, rollerblading, gardening, and dancing are examples of activities that are well tolerated by the artificial hip joint. Working out in a gym is also OK as long as specific exercises are avoided (such as leg presses, squats, and Stairmaster), and providing that exercises are done in moderation.

Activities that should be avoided after total hip replacement fall into 2 categories: 1) those that put excessive stress and wear on the hip, and 2) those that present a significant risk of dislocation.

Activities that cause excessive wear and tear on the hip joint include activities such as jogging, singles tennis, racquetball, basketball, and any activity that involves running, jumping, or repetitive heavy lifting. These activities wear out the hip joint either because of excessive repetitive motion or high “impact loading” (the hard, jolting stress to the hip joint such as occurs with jumping or running). Think of your new hip joint as a new tire on your car: if you continuously drive it too fast or over rough terrain, the tire will wear out more quickly than if you drive it sensibly on smooth highways.

Activities that present a significant risk of dislocation include activities where a fall is likely, such as skiing, horseback riding, and rock climbing. Of course, if one is an accomplished skier, for example, skiing the green or smooth blue runs may be safe. Likewise, if one is an accomplished horseback rider, riding on safe terrain on a well-trained horse may also be safe. One should use common sense when deciding whether an activity has a significant risk for a fall and possible dislocation. For additional reading visit Back to Sports.

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