Is it Easy for a Triathlete to Return Sport After Hip Surgery?

The popularity of triathlon as a sport is rising in every part of the world. One might read news online about thousands of people joining several local and international triathlon races either for fame or a way to keep themselves fit, medical experts say. However, once an athlete develops a health problem such as osteoarthritis or encounters a serious accident such as a broken femur, a cross-road appears to have been reached. The sportsman may seek refuge in hip replacement surgery with the hope that it can restore his mobility. Unfortunately, that is not what had happened to thousands of hip implant recipients. As a matter of fact, a DePuy director gave an internal report indicating nearly 40 percent ASR failure rate.

Triathlon involves three disciplines — swimming, biking and running — which feature different distances such as middle, standard or Olympic and sprint. All of these require a person to be physically fit with truckload of endurance. However, if one goes through a hip replacement, one may wonder up to what level of activity may they return to? Unfortunately, triathlon may no longer be one of them as doctors discourage recipients to get into extreme activities to avoid complications.

Usually doctors might advise a patient suffering from a debilitating pain on the hips or hip fracture to restore mobility because these kinds of problems may impede a person’s movement and affect a person’s quality of life.

Hip replacement surgery involves removing the diseased portion of the top of person’s thigh bone, replacing it with an artificial joint in metal, plastic or some combination of the two. The expected outcome of the surgery is to reduce pain on the hips, but it may not give the same quality of mobility as a person’s hip joint prior to arthritis or injury.

Following hip replacement, the physician may recommend seeing a physical therapist to help a person perform exercises that acclimatize the person with the new hip. Then he will also be advised to avoid weight-bearing exercise on the new hip for some time to allow the new joint and bone to cement together. Even if he is already feeling better and have improved joint flexibility, he might have to avoid the running segment of a triathlon for some time to allow his artificial joint to stabilize.

However, once an athlete have made a full recovery, the doctor may advise a person to get into exercises such as swimming, which is one-third of the triathlon event, but may recommend limiting bicycling to riding only on even surfaces. The lumps and bumps of changing terrain may put too much strain on a person’s hip. This is the scenario for high-impact activities, including jumping, jogging and running, the kind of activity a triathlete do. But then, getting into high-impact activities increases a person’s y risk for dislocation of the implant and hip fracture.

Recipients should be aware that hip replacements are difficult to adjust or repair once damaged, making caution important when exercising. Giving extreme caution to those who are considering making a comeback to triathlon after the hip replacement constitutes good advice, which nowadays is receiving negative feedback, especially from DePuy Orthopeadics, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, whose key product has been recalled in 2010 after being reported as defective and which is still facing thousands of hip replacement lawsuits. To know more related issues, check Hip Replacement Lawsuit Center at

Individuals who may be suffering from severe symptoms of hip osteoarthritis may be asked to undergo total hip replacement – a procedure where the damaged hip joint is replaced with an artificial joint.  However, some hip replacement devices, including DePuy’s ASR all-metal hip implants, have been linked to a string of safety concerns including serious complications in a large number of recipients.

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Author: Kathleen Hennis