Can You Play Basketball After Knee Replacement? | 6 Things To Consider

Written By on December 24, 2022 — Medically Reviewed By Mitch Torres (PT)

Written by on — Medically Reviewed By: Mitch Torres (PT)

Basketball is physically demanding for healthy people, even more so for those recovering from knee surgery. This begs the question – can you play basketball after knee replacement?

Well, it really depends on you and your surgeon. Several factors determine if/when knee replacement patients can play basketball again.

We discuss that and more below. Tap any of the links to navigate the article:

6 Factors that determine if you can play basketball after knee replacement surgery

A surgically replaced knee may not be a complete replica of a healthy one in terms of function. But, you can increase your chance of playing basketball again by considering these factors:

1) Type of implant surgery

The odds are better for those who undergo partial knee replacement. Research suggests +90% of them can return to sports if they do physical therapy. (1)



But, the knee implant will go through wear and tear faster than those who don’t return to sports. This means you may need revision surgery sooner than someone who didn’t play basketball after the knee replacement. (1)

It’s different for those who had total knee replacement surgery (TKR).

TKR is better than partial knee replacement in terms of functional results and implant durability. But, only 63% of patients may be able to successfully play sports again. (1)

Researchers aren’t sure why this is the case. It may have to do with age, as older patients are more likely to need a total replacement. A partial replacement is often left for younger people.

Learn more: All about partial and total knee replacement (and other surgeries) for osteoarthritis.

2) Age and motivation

Younger patients tend to heal easier, better, and faster from knee surgery. This can help them return to playing basketball after a procedure, compared to older adults.

But, it’s also true that motivation plays a huge role in recovery. An older adult with a previously physically active lifestyle may have more motivation to return to the sport. At least compared to a younger patient with a sedentary lifestyle.

This motivation is key, as it will help you get through the upcoming months of rehabilitation and training to get back into basketball.

3) Bodyweight

Having a lower body weight can reduce the strain on your knee implants. This will make it easier for you to get back to basketball and its fast pace.

This will also reduce your risk of surgical complications, as these tend to happen to patients with a BMI >25. (2)

4) Athletic history

You’re more likely to play basketball again if you’ve been doing physical activity regularly before your knee replacement surgery.

But, people with poor body conditioning could have a tougher time getting into playing basketball after surgery.

5) Type of basketball game

It’s easier on your body to participate in shooting drills and games played only on a half-court setup.

A regular 5-on-5 full-court game is more physically taxing and will take a while to get used to again after a knee replacement.

6) Consistency with physical therapy

Patients who consistently show up to their PT appointments are more likely to play basketball again after knee replacement. This is because your physical therapist will:

  • Make sure your knee joint heals properly.
  • Reduce your risk of surgical complications.
  • Strengthen your knee safely.
  • Prepare your knee for the demands of the sport.
  • Give you customized recommendations to take care of your knee implant once you’re cleared.

To maximize your results, make sure to consult a physical therapist who specialized in sports therapy.

How soon can I return to basketball after knee arthroplasty?

This is hard to tell, as it depends on the individual, the factors mentioned above, and the surgeon’s recommendations.

However, most knee surgeons require you to undergo at least 3 to 6 months of physical rehabilitation for recovery. You may need more to return to basketball safely. (1)

Can you play other sports after knee replacement?

Low-impact sports are generally recommended. They will help you live a healthy lifestyle without wearing down your implants quickly. Swimming, Tai chi, and golf are some good options to choose from. (3)

High-impact sports like basketball tend to be contraindicated. This is because they could accelerate the wearing down of your implants, or even shift their position. Examples include volleyball, tennis, and football. (3)

However, remember that this depends entirely on:

  • The individual.
  • The recommendations of the surgeon.
  • What can be achieved through physical therapy.

FAQs

What activities cannot be done after total knee arthroplasty?

Some activities that shouldn’t be done after a TKR include volleyball, tennis, and football. However, this should be discussed with your surgeon and physical therapist first. (3)

Can you still be an athlete after knee replacement?

Generally speaking, you can still be an athlete after knee replacement. But this will depend on the type of replacement, age, previous lifestyle, and other factors.

Can I run again after knee replacement?

You could run again after knee replacement. Discuss with your surgeon and physical therapist if this can be achieved, and what adaptations you may have to do to lessen the impact on your knee implant.

Conclusion: Can you play basketball after a knee replacement?

Playing sports like basketball after a knee replacement can be achieved for some. Others may have to try a lower-impact version of it or do other physical activities instead.

This will be up to your surgeon and physical therapist. But to increase your chances of returning to this sport, be consistent with your rehab and focus on your recovery process.

Resources

  1. Dagneaux, Louis et al. “Return to sport after total or unicompartmental knee arthroplasty: An informative guide for residents to patients.” EFORT open reviews vol. 2,12 496-501. 15 Dec. 2017, doi: 10.1302/2058-5241.2.170037
  2. Williams, Daniel H et al. “Predictors of participation in sports after hip and knee arthroplasty.” Clinical orthopaedics and related research vol. 470,2 (2012): 555-61. DOI: 10.1007/s11999-011-2198-y
  3. Kisner, Carolyn et al. “Chapter 21: The Knee.” Therapeutic Exercise: Foundations and Techniques. 7th edition F.A. Davis Company, Oct 18, 2017. https://books.google.com.ng/books?id=yZc6DwAAQBAJ&printsec=copyright#v=onepage&q&f=false
Author
Paolo Sarmiento (PT)
Paolo is a physical therapist, educator and fitness enthusiast. He shares his knowledge and experience in helping people deal with health issues, especially with the knee. As health-conscious as he can be, he enjoys long bicycle rides, early morning runs, and a good slice of pizza with extra pepperoni.