Air Travel After Joint Replacement

After you’ve recovered from joint surgery, you might be ready for a relaxing vacation. Traveling with a joint implant can be easy and fun. But, there a few things you may need to know before your trip. Here are a few tips to help make your trip as smooth as possible!

  • Discuss your plans with your physician: Many doctors recommend waiting at least six weeks before traveling by air. However, each patient varies, so let your doctor know about your travel plans and talk through their recommendations on keeping comfortable.
  • Be sure to bring any medications in your carry-on: With airlines cutting down on carry-on luggage, you may be tempted to save space and pack your medications in a checked bag. It’s important to have quick access to any medicine you might need during the flight, so consider keeping a few doses close by in your carry-on.
  • Let security know about your implant: Certain types of joint implants can set off airport security alarms. It’s best to be prepared for enhanced security screenings that will detect these implants. As you approach the security area, simply notify one of the TSA officers of your joint implant and where it is located. They will offer you a modified screening that may consist of a hand-held wand or physical pat-down. You may request a private screening if needed. If you have any questions or concerns about airport security screening, call the Transportation Security Administration at 866-289-9673 or visit the website.
    Carry a joint replacement ID: Your orthopaedic surgeon can provide you with a card confirming your joint replacement status. Although you most likely will not be asked to provide proof of your surgery, these cards may be helpful when going through security.
    Choose the right seat: Leg room is precious commodity on airplanes, but sometimes can come with a higher price. If first class or business is not an option, consider choosing a preferred seat or one near the front of the plane. These sections tend to have more room to stretch your legs out and maybe more comfortable than a regular economy seat.
    Move around while in the air: Be sure to try to walk around when possible. It’s recommended to walk up and down the aisle every 15 to 30 minutes to prevent swelling and stiffness. You can also do stretches in your seat to prevent or lessen pain. Talk with your doctor or physical therapist for exercise recommendations.

Have other questions about joint replacement? Give us a call at (402) 637-0800.

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