Return to Sports After Total Hip Arthroplasty: An Umbrella Review for Consensus Guidelines

Am J Sports Med. 2023 Jan;51(1):271-278. doi: 10.1177/03635465211045698. Epub 2021 Oct 20.


Background: Current recommendations on safe return to sports (RTS) after total hip arthroplasty (THA) are subjective and based on studies of varying quality.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to synthesize systematic reviews and meta-analyses on post-THA RTS to propose practice guidelines identifying which sports can be resumed, when they can be resumed, and what risks are present.

Study design: Systematic review; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: This umbrella review followed the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) protocol and PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. The Embase, Medline, and Cochrane databases were searched. Included studies were either systematic reviews or meta-analyses addressing primary or secondary outcomes. Outcomes of interest included safe sports after THA, time to RTS, prognostic indicators of RTS, reasons patients do not RTS, percentage of patients who RTS, implant complications, and objective classification of sports by impact level. Included reviews had data extracted and were assessed for methodological quality using the JBI protocol. The authors defined RTS as "returning to a sport the patient participated in at any point preoperatively."

Results: Patients demonstrated a trend toward lower-impact sports postoperatively. Sports were classified as low (eg, walking), moderate (eg, downhill skiing), or high impact (eg, soccer). A total of 82% (range, 55%-104%) of patients were able to RTS at a mean time of 6 months (range, 4-7 months). The best prognostic indicator for RTS was previous experience in that sport. The main reason patients did not RTS was surgeon recommendation. Aseptic loosening was the most cited complication after RTS.

Conclusion: Most patients are able to return to preoperative levels of low- (eg, walking) and moderate-impact (eg, hiking) sports between 7 and 12 months after THA. Patients planning a return to high-impact (eg, singles tennis) sports should be counseled on the possible risks of traumatic injuries and aseptic loosening and monitored closely.

Keywords: hip replacement; return to sport; sports; total hip arthroplasty; umbrella review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prognosis
  • Return to Sport*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • Walking