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Dos and Don’ts After Joint Replacement or Limb-Sparing Surgery

Woman swings golf club

Children and teens who have had joint replacement surgery can play low-impact sports such as golf.

After joint replacement or limb-sparing surgery, you will need to help your child take steps to prevent infection and prevent breakage.

  • Always try to avoid cuts, scrapes, and ingrown nails on the impacted limb. This could lead to serious infection and losing the limb.
  • Keep any wounds clean and dry. Let your child’s care team know immediately if they have any of the following on the impacted limb:
    • Excessive redness
    • Heat
    • Drainage from any sore on your limb with the joint replacement or around your incision
  • Do not delay treating illnesses. Illnesses, such as a urinary tract infection, could also lead to an infection around the prosthesis.
  • Your child will need to take antibiotics before any dental work, procedure, or surgery to help prevent infection.
    • Let your child’s care team know about upcoming procedures.
    • Your child will not need to take antibiotics before a normal dental cleaning.
  • No contact sports. This means any sport that involves being touched by another person or piece of equipment. That includes :
    • Football
    • Basketball
    • Baseball
    • Softball
    • Soccer
    • Lacrosse
  • No high-impact sports. This means no high-impact aerobics, running, or jumping on a trampoline.
  • Low-impact activity is a good option. Your child can swim, play golf, walk, and exercise on an elliptical machine.
  • Your child’s prosthesis can break. Let the care team know immediately if any of the following things happen:
    • Sudden pain in the limb with the joint replacement that does not go away, especially after a fall.
    • Redness, heat, or drainage from the limb, especially if your child is also running a fever.
    • A cracking noise or a squishy feeling when walking on leg or bending the limb.
    • Any increase in swelling.
    • Injury to the limb.
    • Any change in range of motion, position, or rotation of your child’s limb.

Key Points

  • After joint replacement or limb-sparing surgery, help your child reduce the risk of infection and keep the bone and prosthesis from breaking.
  • Your child should not play contact sports after joint replacement or limb-sparing surgery.
  • Treat any illnesses quickly because infection can spread to the prosthesis.
  • Know the signs of a serious problem with your child’s prosthesis.
  • Reach out to your child’s care team with questions or concerns.

Reviewed: August 2022