Stats: How many people return to sport after a total knee replacement?

When I completed the Oxman, I was pretty damned sure no one else that day had a 12 month old knee replacement. So, I then began to wonder how common it is for a TKR patient to have goals like mine. So I went to Google Scholar to find some research stats on the subject. Here is what I found.

Article 1

76 people with a TKA were interviewed. 55 of these participated in at least 1 sport pre op. return to sport rate post op was 63% (and a much higher 97% returned to sport in a group who had a unicompartmental knee replacement).

The average sporting participation post op for the TKA group was 2 sessions of around 35 mins per week.

Article 2

3125 patients participated in this study. 866 of these had a TKR. This study also included partial knee replacement and hip replacement. They have noted that pre operatively sporting participation declined with age and the highst % of people returning to sport post op was the hip replacement group.

Average age of the TKR patients was 69 years old. 253 of the 866 interviewed participated in sport pre op. 185 of those were able to return to sport post op. 20% of these people returned to swimming. Only 5% of these patients returned to cycling.

Article 3

160 patients with a TKR were interviewed. Mean age: 68. 79 regularly participated in sport pre op, 51 continued post op. The usual sporting choice was low impact sports, an example of this given in the article was bowls.

Article 4

This one is most interesting. Most patients (94%) with a knee replacement had performed sports activities during their life, only 42% had maintained sports activities at the time of surgery.

Five years postoperatively, the proportion of patients performing sports activities further declined to 34% among those with knee replacement. The article concludes that the reasons for reduction of sports activities may include the increasing age of the patients, their worries about an “artificial joint”, and the advice of their surgeon to be cautious.


I found many more articles not cited here that all quoted an average age of well over 60 for TKA patients. All of these had a low % of sporting participation post TKA, most of these sports being low impact recreational sports, none of those cited in articles I have read were competitive sports.

The last article really told me a story that I think affects the results in a lot of people with a TKR. All advice given to me was contradictory to what my goals were. No one believed that my goal of returning to swimming / cycling multisports was possible. many believed that even riding a time trial bike would be impossible.

if this joint ‘fear’ was not instilled in so many, perhaps more would be willing to push the boundaries post knee replacement like I have done.

As suspected, I am a rare thing in the history of knee replacement because not only am I much younger than almost all knee replacement patients quoted in research studies that I have found, but it is also very very rare for someone with a TKR to return to COMPETITIVE sports. I cannot even find any stats for how many manage to return to multisport, the stats worldwide are that low.

Original question: how many return to multisport? I really am not sure, because I would actually question how many were actually competing in multisport in the first place BEFORE the op. Very very few, I would suggest.

So, does that make what I have done so far even more amazing..? Yes it flipping well does!

I love re-writing the statistics and expectations!


Published by Melanie Magowan

I am a personal trainer, massage therapist and small business owner.

4 thoughts on “Stats: How many people return to sport after a total knee replacement?

  1. Yes you are flippin’ amazing Mel! Thanks for the research. I tried to find stats on how many returned to fitness instructing but no luck.


    1. I couldn’t find anything on how many return to multisport either. I have concluded that is so rare (globally) that there just has not been any clinical research on it worthy of producing stats


  2. I guess I must really be strange. I’m still running and plan on running ultras again after I get the 2nd tkr in January. Appalachian Trail 2021 hike thru!!


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