An orthopedic procedure, known as a total hip arthroplasty (THA) addresses severe osteoarthritis (OA) in the hip joint. As baby boomers and aging athletes return to competitive sports, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how sporting activities affect THA outcomes. It aims to summarize the current recommendations in sports medicine, while also discussing rehabilitation paradigms impacted by a changing demographic and level of expectation.

Sports after THA are thought to increase the risk of fracture, dislocation, and poor long-term outcomes. However, the exact risks associated with participating in sports after THA are unknown. The wear after THA appears to be unaffected by sports activity. In addition to the benefits offered by emerging alternatives, such as metal-on-metal hip resurfacing, there are concerns about systemic metal ions from mechanical wear, though the health effects of these ions are still unknown.

It is a life-changing decision for all those who decide to undergo a total joint replacement. In the past 40 years, millions of people suffering from arthritis of the hip have been relieved and restored to mobility following total hip replacements in sports medicine. Pain experienced after surgery is usually less than the discomfort patients lived with daily before the surgery. Results from medical research across established health organization claims 96% success rate. 

The most common reason for hip replacement is arthritis. There are places in the hip joint where cartilage wears down. As the bones scrape against each other, they cause further injury, pain, and stiffness. An individual with hip arthritis may have difficulty walking or even getting in and out of a chair.

In addition to bone breaks, incorrectly growing hips, and other sports-related injuries, hip replacement surgery can be used to fix other conditions. An athlete with hip impingements may need a hip replacement so that he or she can continue playing sports. These symptoms are present in most patients who have hip replacements:

  • Inability to do their jobs or go about their daily business because of severe pain
  • A painful condition that can’t be managed with anti-inflammatory medications, or by walking with a cane or walker
  • They are slowed down by stiff hips

As a sports medicine professional, returning to high-level activity after THA is possible, however, with recommendations from your doctor. A higher level of athletic activity does not seem to be associated with poor clinical outcomes. The impact of wear on clinical outcomes is unclear, although some evidence suggests a correlation between wear and activity level. It is vital to ask your physician about the long-term outcome of the procedure as it regards your body, so you can understand the conditions of a successful return to sport after THA.