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Life in Motion

Traveling After a Joint Replacement

Joint Health

If you have recently had a joint replacement, you may be looking forward to doing some traveling that you put off before your surgery. It is safe to travel after orthopedic surgery, just be sure to talk to your surgeon about how long you should wait before doing so. If your surgery was done within the last six weeks, talk to your surgeon about any precautions you need to take for the prevention of blood clots.

One common concern about flying after a joint replacement is going through metal detectors at security checkpoints. In the past, a letter or card from your surgeon would have been recommended for identification of implants, but today is no longer necessary. Make sure to let a Transportation Security Officer know you have a metal implant before your screening begins. Many patients now prefer to be screened by imaging technology (X-ray Machine) to reduce the likelihood of a pat-down being necessary. If a pat-down is selected by the TSA, it will be helpful to wear clothes that allow you to easily reveal your surgical scar.

Additional recommendations for safe traveling after a joint replacement include:

  • Allow additional time while traveling for security screening
  • Wear appropriate shoes or sneakers to aid in preventing falls
  • Most airports are large and require significant walking to get from the terminal entrance to your gate. If you walk with an assistance device (cane, walker, etc.) and find it difficult walking long distances, consider asking for wheelchair assistance.
  • Recent surgery is a risk factor for blood clots as is prolonged sitting and dehydration. Make sure you drink water on your flight and get up and move around every few hours.
  • Compression stockings can help prevent swelling in your legs and decrease the risk of blood clots.

If you have any questions, talk to your surgeon before traveling.

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