Traveling After A Total Joint Replacement
Over 1.25 million Americans undergo total joint replacement (TJR) surgery every year. As joints age, regular activities such as walking up the stairs or standing waiting to board a plane can become quite painful. By replacing worn-out joints, patients can enjoy lower pain levels, more mobility, and improved quality of life. After surgery, many patients wonder how soon to resume active leisure pursuits that require mobility, like traveling. While complete recovery can take several months, healthy patients can expect to return to normal routines within 3-6 weeks. The key to a successful recovery is preparing beforehand, following a rigorous rehabilitation plan after the procedure, and listening to the body to ensure the new joint isn’t reinjured.
Healthy habits to enable a fast recovery
Doctors recommend maintaining or shifting to a healthy and fully balanced diet before total joint replacement surgery. Calcium, iron, fiber, and other nutrients lower the risk of constipation, often caused by pain medication while boosting bone health. Nicotine usage must be reduced as well, which raises the likelihood of a quick recovery. Smoking can cause low oxygen levels in the body, increasing the risk of surgical complications while under anesthesia. As a result, most doctors suggest ceasing tobacco use for several weeks before total joint replacement surgery.
Improving range of motion
While immediate vigorous activity after surgery is not recommended, developing and sticking to a rehabilitation plan is key to making a full recovery. Movements such as knee pushdowns, leg extensions, and heel slides strengthen the muscles while improving the new joint’s range of motion. Since strengthening and stretching movements require no equipment, daily routines can be performed anywhere, including the airport or bus terminal. Along with strengthening and stretching activities, physicians recommend practicing 30 minutes of low-impact aerobic exercise per day. Machines like the elliptical or stationary bike increase blood flow and heart rate while minimizing stress to the joints.
Heal before you travel
While adventurous patients may be tempted to hop on a plane with a few days of total joint replacement surgery, doctors recommend allowing at least 3-6 weeks for healing. Empowering a fast recovery looks like preparing ahead of time via healthy habits and a robust rehabilitation plan. With proper care and rest, the new joint will be more than ready to travel safely within several weeks, giving patients a pain-free lease on life.