Tennis and Knee Replacement: A Love Match?

Patients must use caution with activities after total knee replacement in order to protect the artificial joint. Older, active patients may need to be especially careful with the new knee joint.

Can patients return to sports and activities after total knee replacement? The answer to this question isn't fully known. Studies show that more than half of all adults who are active in sports before knee replacement return to activities afterward. However, they tend to choose activities with less impact such as golf or bowling.

How about higher-impact activities like tennis? Researchers studied 35 tennis players with an average age of 64 who had total knee replacement. After one year, patients were playing singles and doubles tennis. They played three times per week. Patients were able to compete within six months of surgery. All of the patients reported improved skills. They could run faster, stop easily, and change directions quickly.

Older adults are staying active longer. Doctors are concerned about how new knee joints will hold up with high-impact activities like tennis. Most doctors think artificial joints will loosen with too much activity. More long-term studies are needed on this issue.

Reference: 

Michael A. Mont, MD, et al. Tennis After Total Knee Arthroplasty. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. March/April 2002. Vol. 30. No. 2. Pp. 163-166.

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