“Not a day goes by that I don’t marvel at my pain-free knees and thank my luck stars I had this technology available.” Nancy P.

Take it easy, wait for perfect conditions, think positive. Credit: Liftopia

We had a number of comprehensive, well thought out, and even emphatic responses to our Question For You last week. Recall, we asked for advice about getting joint replacement as an active snow sports-loving senior. We don’t usually analyze the array of responses we get to the QFY feature, but in this case, there are some findings that are worth highlighting.

Here’s what you said:

  1. Some descriptive stats: The average time between surgery and returning to skiing was 8.46 months. Most of the respondents were in their 70s, fewer in their 60s, and one 80. Most respondents reported knee replacements, about a quarter of those double knee replacements. Fewer respondents reported hip replacements.
  2. “Prehab”, exercise before surgery, and Rehab are the key to success. Many responses endorsed the need to strengthen muscles and stretch ligaments under the guidance of a PT and/or on your own. Post operative exercise brings back functionality faster and safer, but overdoing it—which can be a problem for some committed exercisers—can lead to setbacks.

“The value of pre-op therapy for strength and flexibility cannot be over stated.” Mark M., PT

“Go in strong, come out strong.” Donald M.

“Be religious about rehab.” Sherm W.

“Work your tail off.” John W.

“Strengthen, strengthen, strengthen.” Jack M.

  1. Ongoing exercise after rehab PT was a frequent mention. You said these activities kept you going: Swimming, cycling/mountain biking, walking/hiking, elliptical machine, pickleball, Boot Camp fitness. Note: no running, jumping off the backs of pickup trucks, mogul skiing, or icy slopes.
  2. Several readers offered advice about easing back to downhill skiing. This included doing snowplows, sticking with greens, waiting for perfect conditions, avoiding too much, too soon, i.e., glades, blacks. Interestingly, one person mentioned heading back to cross-country skiing before going to the mountains to gain confidence. Bottom line: Take it easy.
  3. What helped getting back into skiing? There were several mentions of having a good surgeon and good appliance replacing the joint in the first place. Other readers mentioned enablers: New equipment, Knee bindings that release from the heel as well as the toe, Ski Mojo, a supportive device that relieves pressure on hips and knees. Another reader mentioned a positive mental attitude. Can’t argue with that.
  4. Curiously, a number of readers mentioned alternatives to surgery including a variety of therapeutics including different drugs and stem cell treatments. Obviously, they are out there and worthy of inquiry. However, most respondents opted for surgery, some after years of a pain.
  5. As far as outcomes are concerned, several readers reported they’ve never skied better. Clearly there is a transformation from pre- to post- joint replacement.

“It was the first time in 30 years that I didn’t have at least twinges of pain from that knee.” Nancy P.





  1. Yvette Cardozo says:

    I still marvel over the fact that Ampion injections literally gave me my right knee back. To get into the study, I had to have stage 4, bone on bone arthritis. I couldn’t go up stairs or get up from a chair w/o pain. It’s been three+ years and I’d say my knee is still 85 or 90%. But, sadly, thanks to the virus, the last double blind studies standing between this and FDA approval were stopped. Who knows when this will hit the market. No, this is not synvisc or cortisone. It’s not shot ‘somewhere/anywhere’ in the knee like cortisone but, rather directed straight to the space (what’s left) between the bones of the knee (not sure exactly where and what but it was X ray guided and a scary large needle but not nearly as painful as I expected). And if I could have continued getting this shot every three months, I probably would be nearly 100%

  2. David Emery says:

    Just read the info on knee replacement. My advise is as you mentioned: :
    To exercise months before the surgery..
    Ride a bike for several months before.
    Ask PT for exercises to do prior to surgery.
    Take advantage of biking hills / etc. to get all the tendons / etc. in shape.
    Do the exercises after surgery and don’t be afraid of using the new knee. You cannot break it.
    Keep the ice to the new knee and get the swelling down so you can bend the knee and get to 110 degrees.
    I used a stationary bike several weeks after surgery.
    I was skiing in 8 weeks and skied just as hard as any 75 year old would.
    Played golf, tennis, pickleball and biked all summer.

  3. Michael Cahn says:

    What a great piece of information. In July I had my Left knee replaced and on Oct 21 my Right knee replaced. Following pre-surgery strength and post -surgery rehab instructions are so very important. I am amazed at how quick recovery has been and is going. So looking forward to skiing pain free in about eight weeks. See you all on the slopes!!!

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