It is a common misconception that joint surgery is reserved for only the elderly and infirm. For many years total replacement surgery, in particular, was primarily done on patients over 65 years but in recent years, younger and younger patients are opting for joint surgery as a viable treatment option. These younger patients include many sportsmen and women from around the world.
Sports injuries are unfortunately par for the course when it comes to professional sport and are a setback professional athletes can ill-afford. Sport can be brutal, and it is not a surprise to hear what a toll it can take on athletes’ bodies when you see what they put themselves through! In this article, we take a quick look at three athletes who have undergone joint surgery/therapy of some kind and are in various stages of recovery. While their treatment has not been a magic wand that suddenly made everything “better”, it has presented them with a second chance and the opportunity to continue to pursue their sporting dreams.
Three professional athletes who underwent knee or hip surgery
Successful professional golfer and entrepreneur, Tiger Woods is no stranger to injury. The long list of his injuries includes back spasms, a strained elbow, a left shoulder muscle injury, oblique muscle strain in his stomach, multiple knee injuries and a torn right Achilles tendon, amongst others. After having ruptured the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in his left knee in June 2007, in April 2008, Tiger underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair the cartilage. Just six weeks later, he won the U.S. Open! A week later, his win was closely followed by reconstructive surgery on his ACL and repair of cartilage damage. In 2019, Tiger again underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair minor cartilage damage in his left knee, once more going on to secure a record-equalling 82nd PGA Tour title at the Zozo Championship in Japan shortly after that.
Three-time Grand Slam Champion, two time Olympic Singles Tennis Gold medallist, and former world number one, Andy Murray, continues to play tennis today, even after two hip surgeries. It is believed his first surgery was arthroscopic hip surgery. This was followed a year later by hip resurfacing surgery that saw the femur head capped with metal and put into an artificial socket. Unsure of the potential outcome of the operation, Murray had been concerned it might mean the end of his tennis career. Despite this, he went on to win the Queen’s double title with Feliciano Lopez later that year. Whilst he has still not returned to his old form, he continues to appear on the tennis stage and is competing against the world’s best, most recently at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Wayde van Niekerk
Closer to home, in November 2017, 400m world record holder Wayde van Niekerk suffered a debilitating knee injury whilst playing in a celebrity touch rugby match. He sustained medial and lateral tears of the meniscus, as well as a torn ACL. He almost immediately began treatment and quickly underwent surgery to treat his knee injury, which afterwards was declared a success. Since then, Wayde has faced multiple unrelated health setbacks but has continued to participate in races on an international level and fight for his dream of breaking the 400m, 43-second barrier.
Other famous people who have received hip or knee surgery
It is not only professional sporting stars who suffer injury; even those who do sport for recreation get badly hurt and need treatment. In 2013, actor Steve Carrell had hip replacement surgery at the age of 51 to resolve hip pain he had suffered from for 12 years, caused by an old ice-hockey injury. His hip replacement was such a success that the actor returned to recreational hockey soon after that and continues to play.
In a similar vein, here are a few other famous names you may recognise who have had successful hip or knee surgeries:
- At age 55, former bodybuilder and Mr Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger had a hip replacement and still went on to film the third Terminator film and has acted in numerous other films since.
- In 1999, at the young age of 44, Eddie Van Halen (frontman of Van Halen) had his hip replaced after suffering from chronic hip pain. His new hip served him well for 21 years until his untimely death from throat cancer in 2020.
- Famous fitness guru and actress Jane Fonda suffers from osteoporosis and has openly shared how she had both her hips replaced and a knee. In 2019, she was awaiting a second knee replacement (it is unknown if this has taken place yet). She’s had the following to say about her joint surgeries,
“I’ve had hip and knee replacements, but I can still do an intensive workout. I believe that your mind can overcome a lot of the failings of your body as you get older by maintaining a youthful spirit and a passion for everything that life has to offer.
“You can still bring a lot of vigour and determination to your world no matter how creaky your knees may be or how many joints have been replaced.”
While the vast majority of the sporting stars and celebrities named above have had major surgery to resolve and address their pain issues, this does not mean major surgery is your only option! At Cape Hip and Knee, we will meet with you to work out a treatment plan specific to your personal needs. You can rest assured that we prefer to save your joint rather than replace it whenever possible. Where surgery is needed, we will walk with you each step of the way.