Can ankle replacements allow you to do sports afterwards?

There is a lot of controversy as to whether you can do any sports after an ankle replacement. Some surgeons believe that its an operation for the old and sedentary. Some will only consider doing an ankle replacement if you are 85 and want to walk to the bathroom. This is not too different to how hip replacements were in the 1960’s.  In those days at the very beginning of hip replacement technology hip fusion was considered a good operation to treat a painful hip. Nowadays no one would consider a fusion of a hip in preference to a hip replacement.  Because most surgeons only do small numbers of ankle replacements, the same cautious philosophy applies to ankle replacements as did to hips back then, nearly 60 years later.

So can I do sports after an ankle replacement?

However the good news is that ankle replacement technology has moved on and is getting better and better all the time and is now a very successful treatment for severe ankle arthritis.  The commonest question I get asked is whether or not patients can return to sports after an ankle replacement. The answer is yes.  Most patients do. Certain contact sports like running and football, although possible are not sensible after an ankle replacement however.

I always tell my patients to think of Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park. He famously stated “we spent so long questioning whether we could make dinosaurs, that we never stopped to ask whether we should…”  The same applies to sports after an ankle replacement. Anything that is going to increase your chances of injury or rapid wear and tear of the implant is not sensible, even if possible. That said most patients return to being able to do long walks, bowling, dancing, hiking, cycling and many sports such as golf, tennis, and skiing.

A Video of a Patient

This video shows that skiing is possible on an ankle replacement. Water skiing on the other hand is not so sensible!

Skiing on an Ankle Replacement


Page Author:

Mr Andrew Goldberg OBE MD FRCS(Tr&Orth)
Consultant Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon
The London Ankle Replacement Centre
The Wellington Hospital, London, UK