Skiing with hip and knee pain: how to make sure you’re in good health in time to ski this winter

Alpine skiing after joint replacement surgery from The Yorkshire Hip and Knee Clinic

Joint replacement surgery won't affect your balance or ability to ski, and can restore your joint function so you can return to doing the same activities you enjoyed before treatment. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Can hip or knee pain prevent you from skiing?

We chat with Richard Grogan, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and avid skier, at The Yorkshire Hip and Knee Clinic, to find out.

He, along with specialist consultants, Chris Brew and James Hahnel at The Yorkshire Clinic in Bingley, Nuffield Health Hospital and Spire Roundhay in Leeds are dedicated to delivering patient-led, bespoke private healthcare to help you tackle joint pain.

Below, Richard shares what hip and knee treatments are available to ensure you can get back on ski slopes in no time.

Q: Is it common for those suffering from hip and knee pain to be reticent about going skiing?

A: Absolutely. Skiing can be a high impact sport, that requires a lot of bending and pivoting, so for those with arthritis or hip and knee pain, it can be worrying to consider going on a ski holiday. 

Consultant orthopaedic surgeons in Yorkshire Richard Grogan, Chris Brew and James Hahnel

Consultant orthopaedic surgeons Chris Brew, James Hahnel and Richard Grogan. - Credit: Jim Fitton Photography

Stiffness, immobility or pain in the joints can affect how long you’re able to spend on the slopes, the range of pistes you can cover and the level of skiing you can comfortably perform. 

I recommend seeking specialist help as soon as possible. In our consultation, we can learn more about your lifestyle, skiing ability and aspirations, analyse your condition in more detail and advise what medical options are on offer to control your pain and improve function.

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Q: What joint treatment do you recommend for skiers?

A: Anyone suffering from hip or knee pain should maintain as much muscle control of the joint as possible – light exercise and swimming can help. I also recommend seeking sport specific physio as this can ease some of your symptoms. Physiotherapists refer many of our patients to us, so it can be a great way to access the treatment you need.

When simple measures fail to control symptoms, joint replacement surgery is another option you can consider. Higher functioning individuals may benefit from a partial joint replacement. For others, a full hip or knee replacement could be more suitable.

You can also explore hip resurfacing surgery. This is at the forefront of joint replacements and is an alternative to more conventional surgeries. Andy Murray just recently underwent the procedure. It replaces the arthritic joint but, by only replacing the damaged cartilage it restores normal anatomy with minimal bone loss.

We can recommend what treatment will be best for you, and will be there to guide you through every step and ease any concerns.

Q: If I’ve had hip or knee replacement surgery can I still go skiing?

A: This is a question I get a lot, and the answer is yes. Joint replacement surgery will restore you to a level of function and physical ability that will allow you to return to the sports you love. Whether you’re a package holiday piste skier or are a more adventurous “off-piste” ski tourer.

Modern parabolic skis also require less pivoting and jumping than historic ski designs. This can help put people’s minds at ease if they are planning a ski trip not long after hip or knee surgery.

How to return to skiing after hip replacement surgery from The Yorkshire Hip and Knee Clinic

Roughly three months after hip or knee replacement surgery you'll be able to return to the ski slopes. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Q: How long after hip or knee surgery can I go skiing?

A: Every patient is different, and it’s important that you listen to your body and don’t overdo it. Six weeks after surgery, you’ll likely be able to enjoy walking and swimming. Roughly three months following hip or knee surgery, you’ll be able to increase activity and think about getting back to sports, including skiing.

Q: How can The Yorkshire Hip and Knee Clinic help me return to my active lifestyle?

A: Because we offer our services across three private hospitals, it’s easy and quick for you to arrange a consultation. You don’t need a referral from a GP and will receive a diagnosis and personalised treatment plan within days of seeing us.

Long delays on the NHS are making it difficult for patients to access the healthcare they need, but we’ll be able to schedule your surgery within a few weeks and offer all-inclusive payment plans to help you cover costs, or you can use private health insurance.

Hip and knee replacement surgery from The Yorkshire Hip and Knee Group in Bradford and Leeds

The Yorkshire Hip and Knee Group work collaboratively as a group across multiple private hospitals. - Credit: The Yorkshire Hip and Knee Group

As we work collaboratively, we’re able to offer patients the highest quality treatment, sharing our practices, techniques and knowledge for the best results. We have a proven track record of success, supported by the National Joint Registry and demonstrated by our previous patients’ reviews.

I adore skiing and know how much I’ve missed it during these last 18 months because of the Covid-19 pandemic. I can’t wait to book my next ski resort trip and I wouldn’t want any of my patients to miss out on an opportunity to ski because they’re concerned about their joints. This is why I’m dedicated to delivering specialist medical treatment and advice, to ensure they don’t!

For more information, visit yorkshirehipandknee.com. Call Leeds Nuffield Health Clinic on 0113 213 6804 or contact The Yorkshire Clinic on 01274 352014.