Travel After Orthopaedic Surgery

Learn more about the points you should be aware of before embarking on a trip after orthopaedic surgery.

Travel After Orthopaedic Surgery

Written by Chloe Gale

Medical Review by Medical Quality Officer, David Jones , MPharm

Published: Thursday 14 December 2023

Making the decision to have orthopaedic treatment involves many factors to consider, including the impact of the surgery on your life and capabilities. One such contemplation may be your ability to travel post-operatively. Learn more about the points you should be aware of before embarking on a trip after orthopaedic surgery.

Travel insurance after orthopaedic surgery

It’s important patients declare their surgery or any other pre-existing medical condition they may have when taking out a policy. Patients can usually declare their medical condition online or via a medical screening call, which is typically a straightforward set of questions for the insurance company to understand how the medical conditions affect them.

What information is good to know before speaking to a travel insurance company?

Everyone’s medical history is different, but patients can expect the following sorts of questions:

  • Why was the joint replacement or resurfacing performed?
  • When did you have your surgery?
  • How many joint replacement or joint resurfacing operations have you had?
  • Does this condition require you to use any mobility aids?
  • Are you awaiting any joint replacement and/or resurfacing surgery?
  • Has your joint replacement ever dislocated?
  • Have you ever needed treatment for any neck or back problems?
  • How many unplanned hospital admissions have you had for this condition in the last 12 months?
  • How many medicines do you take for this condition?

Can patients get travel insurance coverage if they’ve recently had a hip/knee replacement but haven’t been signed off by their surgeon for post-op checks?

Patients can still get coverage, but it may not include medical expenses or being flown home if they have a medical emergency related to their underlying condition. It is important to be discharged by the doctor or surgeon, which will typically happen after the final post-op appointment.

Flying after orthopaedic surgery

If patients intend to fly, they are recommended to seek advice from their doctor about reducing their risk of blood clots (DVTs). Patients are typically most at risk two to ten days after surgery but can stay high risk for about three months. The risk of a blood clot happening when flying is much higher because patients are not moving around so much, and the blood can pool. Each airline also has its own regulations about when passengers are safe to fly, so check before booking anything. The NHS advises patients to wait three months after hip replacement surgery before flying.

Driving after orthopaedic surgery

Experts at the Royal College of Surgeons suggest that driving after hip replacement surgery should be avoided for the first six weeks. Getting in or out of a car or sitting for long periods is potentially damaging to soft body recovery tissues. Post-surgery therapy usually includes a strict daily routine that shouldn’t be interfered with in the first few weeks. So, it’s important to rest up and allow time to recover; following the physiotherapist’s advice is crucial to a patient’s recovery.

Skiing after orthopaedic surgery

Skiing after hip and knee replacement surgery should be discussed with the surgeon, as each patient’s case is different. Some travel insurance companies may not cover or recommend skiing following joint replacement surgery, so it’s important to find insurance coverage that protects all of the patient’s needs. Deciding to ski after surgery is a decision between the patient and their surgeon. But finding full cover may be difficult. This is due to the high-impact nature of this activity on joints and the higher risk of injury whilst on ski slopes. Read more on the importance of preparing your body for skiing.

Should you have further questions regarding your post-operative care and travel, please discuss them with your Patient Care Adviser and talk to your surgeon regarding your recovery recommendations.

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