We live in New England where winters are long and natives need to find ways to enjoy the outdoors when temperatures drop and the snow flies. Skiing is a favorite pastime of many who live in the Northeast whether downhill, backcountry, or cross country. As people live longer and remain very active into their older years, we see patients who continue to ski into their 70s and 80s. At the same time, we are beginning to see many younger patients in their 40s, 50s, and 60s with advanced arthritis for whom joint replacement is the end of the road when conservative treatment fails. These patients want to be able to return to the activities they love including skiing, with no major restrictions, particularly when their arthritis prevents them from engaging in sports such as skiing due to pain and stiffness.
Fortunately, modern advancements in prosthesis design, biomaterials, and surgical techniques now enable patients to return to almost all physical activities after hip and knee replacement. Perhaps the two advancements that have made the biggest difference are rapid recovery techniques that promote improve range of motion and stability and highly cross-linked polyethylene which provides for improved wear resistance when joint replacements are subjected to physical stress. With these advancements, we allow patients to return to all manner of leisure-time physical activity with the exception of long-distance running, provided that they do the necessary rehabilitation to achieve the strength and function required for that activity.
With regard to skiing, we have had many patients return to the slopes with no limitations provided they have successfully healed and achieved a level of function necessary to perform at a high level. This requires patience, commitment, and grit on the patient’s part to achieve the goals they have to return to what they want to do. With our AVATAR program, we provide the tools for patients to meet these goals. If you have an arthritic hip and knee and love to get outside in the winter, come see what AVATAR can do for you.
Here is one of our AVATAR patients who underwent a Conformis, customized patient-specific knee replacement skiing at Snowbird, Utah