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Knee Pain Health Center

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Golf Swing Is Rough on New Knees

Hitting the Links Can Take a Toll on Artificial Knees, Study Shows
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 6, 2008 -- Golfers who have had a knee replacement won't want to hear this: Have you considered taking up biking?

Researchers have found that new knees take a beating when you swing a golf club, putting a great deal of pressure on the knees, especially the forward knee.

In a small study, four patients who had total knee arthroplasty (TKA) or total knee replacement were studied to measure how the replaced knees held up from the inside out while jogging, playing tennis, biking, walking, and swinging a golf club. They received specially designed artificial joints.

Most Stressful to New Knees: Golf Swing

The top stressor was on the forward knee during a golf swing. Jogging came next; serving in tennis was third in the average peak force placed on the knee. Walking on a treadmill was less stressful than walking on level ground. The least stressful exercise tested for the knee was riding a bicycle.

"Some of our findings were expected," the study's lead researcher, Darryl D. D'Lima, says in a news release. "However, we did not expect to find that golf swings can be so hard on the knees. During the golf swing, it seems that there is a lot of force on the forward knee."

D'Lima is director of the research laboratory at the Shiley Center for Orthopaedic Research and Education at Scripps Clinic. He says the surprise is that most people think of golf as a fairly gentle and low-impact sport.

Play, But Modify

D'Lima adds that there are ways to modify your golf game to protect the knees.

"This is not to say that TKA patients have to eliminate jogging, golfing, or tennis, but they should consider modifying those activities to lessen the impact on their knees."

Researchers suggest that joggers might switch to running on a treadmill instead of pounding the pavement.

Many New U.S. Knees

The AAOS reports that 478,000 knee replacements are performed every year in the United States.

The findings were presented at the 75th annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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