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Hey, there, golfer! You just had or been considering having a total hip replacement, and you’re wondering about the changes in your golf life after your total hip replacement surgery. Here’s the good news: if your surgeon permits it, you can play golf again.
There are many simple things you can start doing immediately to get ready for your upcoming golf game. It’s not as difficult as you may think.
In fact, according to a journal published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “Research indicates that a return to golf is a safe activity following total hip arthroplasty (THA). While golfers have reported hip pain following play, most are able to continue enjoying their sport.”
The only question is whether you’ll have to alter your swing or switch to using an easier-to-hit club (the putter). We recommend that you discuss these two options with your doctor before teeing off.
In this article, we will discuss how quickly you can go back to playing golf again after total hip replacement surgery.
Why Get A Total Hip Replacement Surgery?
The hips are ball-and-socket joints, meaning that the rounded head of a thighbone fits into a flattened area of the pelvis called the socket.
The hip joint is formed by both bone and cartilage. With regular wear and tear, cartilage can wear down until it no longer cushions your bones during movement.
When this happens, your bones grind against each other every time you take a step or bend down to pick something up.
Eventually, this constant friction can damage your hip bone to the point where surgery becomes necessary.
- Arthritis (Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Etc.)
- Traumatic Injury
The Procedure And Recovery Time
A total hip replacement is performed under general anesthesia, so you won’t feel pain during the surgery. The physical therapists at your hospital will help you recover so that you can get around on your own.
Depending on your age and health history, it can take several weeks or months to fully recover from the operation.
Range of motion exercises can begin immediately after surgery. You’ll need to use crutches until you learn how to walk with a cane or walker.
Contact sports like golfing and running should be avoided for at least one year after surgery. Your surgeon will give you the go-ahead before you resume your favorite pastimes, but it generally takes several months before most patients feel comfortable returning to these activities.
Your surgeon may give you the green light to return to golf as long as:
- Your hip isn’t stable
- There’s no reason why playing golf would hurt your recovery period.
(See “Take It Easy” below. If you have heart problems, diabetes, and/or other medical conditions, check with your doctor first.)
Keep in mind, though, that no one can definitively say when it’s safe to return to the golf course. Discuss your plans with your surgeon and make the decision that’s right for you.
Recovery Period – What To Expect
It’s normal to have a little stiffness in your new hip for the first few weeks after surgery, but you should be able to walk and move around without the aid of a cane after a few days. After that, recovery speed will vary, depending on your:
- Health History
- Physical Activity Level
(You can expect more recovery time with increased activity.)
For example, walking vs. golfing. The average recovery time for walking is 8-12 weeks, but the average recovery time for golfing is 6-12 months or more, depending on your doctor’s advice after your physical exam. Your doctor should advise you of the specific time frame for you.
Be Prepared To Take It Easy
If you’re returning to golf after total hip replacement surgery, it’s important to take things slowly. Delicate muscles and ligaments need time to heal after the operation. You’ll also want to focus on muscle strengthening exercises so that you can move around without putting pressure on the joint.
Once you get the okay to return to golf, be prepared to take it easy. Most patients need to ease into the swing gradually so that they don’t follow through with their usual swinging motion and risk damaging the new hip joint.
Swung slowly, a golf club can cause pain and stiffness, particularly in the first few weeks after surgery. Golfing also requires you to twist from side to side while walking between shots.
If you’re not used to these motions, expect soreness around your hip joint and knee after a round of golf.
Use The Putter
Your golf game may be different after total hip replacement surgery, especially if you’re recovering from an injury or osteoarthritis that has worn out your joint. Try using the putter for a while instead of your regular club.
It’s easier to swing than most clubs, and it won’t wear you out when you’re just trying to get back in the game.
Take it easy on yourself at first. Use a golf cart whenever possible, and accept help from your playing partners whenever they offer it. You can pass on shots to other players and ask them to grab balls from the rough if you’re not feeling up to it.
Chipping and pitching can be more difficult after total hip replacement, so avoid these shots until you’ve had a chance to adjust to your new hip.
One of the biggest challenges for golfers after hip replacement surgery is the inability to make a full backswing. The hip and pelvis must be able to flex in the backswing for you to swing normally. If you can’t flex your hips, then you may have to adapt your swing.
An alternative option is an easier club. Swinging a putter or using a short-handled, lightweight club allows most people to play golf again after total hip replacement.
The problem with this strategy is that longer clubs have more power, so many golfers find they can’t hit the ball as far when they switch to the putter or short-handled club.
Wear A Medical Alert Bracelet Or Necklace
Another good safety precaution is to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace. These devices contain an engraved plate that informs emergency responders about your medical history.
Some of these simple pieces of jewelry include a small tab that lists your medications, blood type, and whether you have any other chronic conditions.
Check with your doctor to see if this is something you should consider before going back out on the course where there’s no one around to help you if an accident does happen during your round of golf.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I play golf after my total hip replacement?
Yes, but it’s a gradual process that requires a lot of practice and patience before resuming your usual golf game. Be sure to always take it easy so that you don’t cause yourself or your new hip injury or pain.
If you feel pain in your new joint, stop immediately and seek advice from your surgeon or physical therapist.
2. Who should not play golf after having an operation?
About 25% of all patients who have a total hip replacement cannot return to the same level of sports they were once able to participate in- including golfing- post-surgery, due to various reasons such as age, medical history/conditions, etc.
Discuss your plans with your surgeon and/or physical therapist before taking up golfing again following a total hip replacement.
3. Should I ask my doctor for a specific return-to-play date to play golf?
Your doctor is the most qualified to answer this question. Discuss your plans with them and see what they advise you based on your health history, age, physical activity level, etc.
Generally speaking, some doctors tend to err on the side of caution and recommend a later return date, while others recommend an earlier return date, but both approaches can be completely justified depending on individual circumstances.
4. Will my surgeon allow me to golf after a total hip replacement?
This is a decision that needs to be made between you and your surgeon. Discuss your plans with them before taking up golfing again following a total hip replacement.
If you have any doubts or questions about your recovery period, it’s safe to ask your surgeon or physical therapist for advice based on the outcome of your physical exam and overall entire health history.
5. I’m having a hard time getting back to golfing after my total hip replacement. Can I get some advice?
If you are having a hard time resuming your golf game after a total hip replacement, talk to your surgeon and/or physical therapist.
Both are great resources for advice on resuming certain sports such as golf. Don’t be afraid to seek advice from them as they typically have vast experience of returning patients back to their usual level of activity following surgery.
6. My surgeon wants to see me after my total hip replacement to determine if I can play golf again. Will he allow me to?
Many surgeons encourage their patients back to their usual level of activity after surgery, including golfing. You just need to discuss your plans in great detail beforehand with your surgeon so that they can determine whether you are able or not.
Be sure to listen closely and follow all advice given by them, your physical therapist, and/or fitness trainer so that you do not injure yourself or cause pain in your new joint. This article will teach you about the importance of physical therapy.