Orthopedics: Living with Your New Joint

Most people can resume many of their daily activities after a joint replacement. From walking and biking to traveling and gardening, a new joint should allow you to live your life to the fullest- without pain. Nonetheless, there are some adjustments to your lifestyle:

Airport Security Metal Detectors: The majority of hip and knee replacement devices will set off airport metal detectors. You may want to request a medical alert card from your surgeon to show verification of your prosthesis, although it’s not required for travel. It’s also a good idea to inform a TSA agent at the security gate before you’re screened. If you use the X-ray machine that is now available at many airport
security checks, this will reduce the chance of having a ‘pat-down’.

Air Travel: During a flight, the pressure and lack of mobility may cause your joint to swell, especially in the first few weeks or months following surgery. Consult with your doctor to make sure it’s okay for you to travel. And, if possible, get up and walk around during lengthy flights.

Dentist Appointments: You are at an increased risk of infection after having joint replacement surgery. Therefore, it’s important to consult with your doctor or dentist before moving forward with any dental procedures, as you’ll likely be required to take antibiotics beforehand. Taking antibiotics will help prevent an infection from entering the body and settling in the artificial joint.

Exercising and Sports: Your doctor will let you know when it’s okay to return to your usual activities and routines. Ask if anything should be avoided, but in general, the lower impact activities will put less stress on your joints so keep that in mind before partaking in high impact activities such as jogging or skiing . If possible, stick to lower impact activities, which include walking, golfing, swimming, bicycling, etc. You should speak with your doctor and physical therapist about an individualized exercise program.

Maintain a Healthy Weight and Diet: Added weight and extra pounds place stress and strain on your natural and artificial joints. This causes the joints to wear out faster. Adhering to a healthy diet will help you maintain or lose weight. And, with proper diet and nutrition, you can also promote good bone health. If you suffer from osteoporosis, make sure you’re getting a proper intake of calcium and vitamin D.

New joints generally last about 10 to 20 years. This means younger patients may need to replace their new joint at some point. How long your new joint lasts depends on several factors such as your weight and how active you are. Younger individuals who are more active tend to wear out their joints sooner.

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