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Traveling For Orthopedic Surgery

Preparing for Orthopedic Surgery: What you need to know before, during, and after treatment.

In the weeks leading up to treatment:

  • Stop taking aspirin or other blood thinners one week before the scheduled date of surgery.  If you are taking aspirin for stents in the heart etc., you must consult with your physician and change to low molecular weight heparin injections
  • Painkillers (NSAIDs) weaken bone and are therefore best avoided before surgery. An occasional one is acceptable. Tylenol (paracetemol) is the recommended substitute.
  • Smoking should be discontinued immediately.
  • Hormonal treatment (for women) must be stopped for a month prior to surgery.
  • All other medicines e.g. for diabetes, blood pressure and medical ailments must be continued until hospital admission.
  • Exercise is good before surgery especially from a respiratory point of view. Hip abductor/extensor exercises along with knee quadriceps are both good preparations. However be very careful not to push yourself as overdoing it beyond pain limits may induce inflammatory changes which are counterproductive.

Getting to Your Appointment:

  • It is important to arrive at your destination at least 3 days prior to scheduled surgery if arriving at night, or two days prior if arriving in the morning.  This is important for you to adjust to any time change and get adequate rest before surgery.
  • Unless you have organized differently, someone at the airport will be waiting to pick you up at the airport. Make sure you have sent in your flight details so this can be properly arranged. 

Post-Surgery:

  • Depending on the procedure, post-surgery physiotherapy is often required.  Hospitals are equipped with special rehabilitation facilities and trainers for this purpose. Your doctor may provide you with therapeutic exercises to continue with upon your return home
  • A resting period of 11 days is required before long-haul trips (such as from India or Taiwan to North America) and 8 days for closer destinations like Costa Rica or Nicaragua.
  • When traveling, patients should make the following arrangements:
    • have a bottle of water with them at all times to maintain proper hydration
    • request an aisle seat and try to take a few steps in the corridor every half hour
    • compulsory wearing of TED stocking during the flight
    • do ankle pump exercises when seated

Back home:

Post-surgery care will vary depending on the procedure; your doctor will instruct you on proper care specific to your treatment. However all patients should:

  • Make sure they have someone who can provide transport as driving may be off limits.
  • Avoid activities that put strain on the recovering area until fully healed. 
  • Be diligent about performing any therapeutic exercises prescribed to them by the doctor, as this will ensure proper healing.
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