Hip and knee replacement surgery can be life-changing for those who are suffering from deteriorating joints. The pain and limited mobility are likely to have been holding you back from many things that you enjoy, and the operation can restore a great deal of this back again. For some patients, just walking around again, being able to go up and down stairs or undertaking gentle exercise is rewarding enough, whereas others may wish to return to much more strenuous leisure pursuits.
Skiing is one of these pursuits that we discuss with a number of our patients. For those who have enjoyed winter ski holidays for many years, they can worry that needing a hip or knee replacement might signal the end of this pastime. Encouragingly, this is not often the case.
Whether or not you can ski after a knee or hip replacement largely depends on your level of competency before you had your operation. If you were already a competent skier then there is no reason why, in time, you can return to skiing again. If you are a complete beginner, then it is really advisable to choose a different hobby to learn. Learning to ski after you have had a hip or knee replacement is not a very sensible choice as all novice skiers take their fair share of bumps, falls, knocks and jolts – none of which are ideal for a replacement joint.
Skiing after a hip replacement: walk before you can run – so to speak
It is important to understand that you will need adequate time to recover from hip or knee replacement surgery. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t consider an activity such as skiing for at least three to six months after you have had the operation and, even then, you should be prepared to take it nice and easy. A ski holiday this soon after surgery really should involve nothing more strenuous than building your strength back up on nursery slopes. If you push yourself too hard, too soon, then you risk damaging your joint and wishing you had been more patient.
Skiing after a hip replacement: take sensible precautions
If you decide to ski, there are also decisions during the trip you can make which limit the risk to your new joint. Check the weather reports and avoid icy conditions. If you become tired, call it a day, as you are much more likely to fall when fatigued.
In summary, skiing is a sport which gives a lot of pleasure to many people. Being able to enjoy the snow, the speed, the scenery and the overall experience is something that many of us enjoy; although it is not without risk for anybody. Anyone can injure themselves skiing, no matter how careful or experienced they are. For patients who have had a hip or knee joint replaced, the main concern is a bad accident can cause a more complicated problem than if the patient had not had a replacement. For skiers who have had replacement joints, it is a case of weighing up the level of risk and making an informed choice whether or not returning to the slopes is the right decision for them.
For more advice on skiing after a hip replacement, call 020 8947 9524 to arrange a consultation with London hip expert Mr Simon Bridle.