What should I expect once I have decided to have hip or knee replacement surgery?

Your surgeon’s office will schedule the following for you:

  • Surgery
  • Pre-admission testing visit
  • Joint replacement education class and Mind body and spirit class (recommended)

You will be contacted by the Joint replacement Service surgical scheduler to make sure all appointments are set.

Your surgeon will provide you with specific information on how to prepare for your surgery, stay in the hospital and follow-up care.

Following my joint replacement surgery, how long will I recover in the hospital?

Patients typically stay in the hospital two to three days following surgery. Most patients qualify for the Rapid Recovery Program. This is an accelerated rehabilitation program for all patients that are planning to be discharged to their home. Your surgeon and case manager can provide you with further details.

Where will I recover following my stay in the hospital?

Your Preadmission Orthopaedic Nurse Navigator will assist you in selecting a recovery setting suitable for your needs. Many patients are able to discharge directly to their home. After-hospital recovery options include outpatient physical therapy, home care services (nursing and/or physical therapy) and skilled nursing facility rehabilitation.

When can I take a bath/shower?

You can usually begin to shower 14 days after your operation, if no drainage is present. Then you may pat dry the incision area.

When can I drive?

Driving is allowed once you are comfortable getting in and out of the car and you have regained your muscle strength and reflexes. You will need to discuss timing with your surgeon, but driving is not recommended before six to eight weeks. When driving for the first time make sure to conduct a trial run in a safe environment while accompanied by a second driver.

How much exercise should I do and how can I tell if I have done too much?

Mild or moderate exercise is beneficial, and over-exercise is painful and possibly harmful. The physical therapist will supply a list of exercises in the hospital. In many cases it is advisable to continue with a therapist-supervised exercise program after you are discharged from the hospital.

What kind of shoes should I wear?

Shoes should be comfortable, easy to put on and remove, and provide a safe non-skid surface. High heels should be avoided for the first three months.

How long is my recovery time?

Everyone heals from surgery at a different pace. In most cases, you will be restricted to using a walker or crutch for about four to six weeks. As time goes on, you will move toward normal function. You will need to have some patience since you will continue to use some form of assistive device for about three months; for some people it may take a bit longer.

Can I use weights to strengthen my leg?

Not for the first three months. As your recovery progresses your doctor will give you information about when you will be able to use weights.

Will I go to a rehabilitation center or to my own home?

That depends. Many people are able to go home after their operation. However, the main factor in the decision is your support structure from your family, friends and coach, as well as your living situation and environment. The physical therapist will also perform a safety evaluation, then we will discuss this with you in detail. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

Will I need more physical therapy?

Yes, you will need to continue building and strengthening your affected leg. Your 35 therapist will teach you exercises to practice to help you in your recovery.

When can I go back to work?

Everyone heals from surgery at a different pace, and each job differs in its physical demands (sedentary versus active job). Discuss this with your surgeon at your follow-up appointment and atphysical therapy appointments. In general, most people take six to 12 weeks to recover and return to work.

How long will I take pain medications?

Everyone heals from joint replacement surgery at a different pace. You will most likely need pain medicine for a few weeks after your surgery. Most people are able to wean off of the narcotic drugs in a reasonable amount of time, one to two weeks, and switch to over-the-counter medicines such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

When can I travel?

You may travel when you feel comfortable. It is a good idea to walk and stretch in between sitting positionsto prevent blood clots.

Will I set off the alarm device for metal detection at the airport?

This might happen. A letter from us could help; however, because of heightened security these days, you most likely will have to undergo a “pat down” during security checks.

Should I use ice or heat for swelling?

You should use ice for several days after your surgery. If swelling continues to be an issue, please call the doctor’s office or seek medical advice for these concerns.

When can I expect to have a normal range of motion?

Everyone heals from surgery at a different pace. You will be taught different exercises at the Joint Replacement class that you can practice while in the hospital after your surgery. A physical therapist and the nursing staff will help youpractice your exercises, which will allow you to recover better and faster.

Is this feeling of depression normal?

It is not uncommon to have feelings of depression after joint replacement surgery, due to a number of reasons, such as limited mobility, discomfort, increased dependency on other people and/or medication side effects. Typically, these feelings will fade as you return to your normal routine and activities. Seek professional advice or talk with your doctor if this concerns you.

I can’t get to sleep. Is this normal?

This is a very common complaint following joint replacement surgery. Non-prescription remedies, such as Benadryl or melatonin, may be helpful. If you continue to have sleepless nights, please call your doctor for a prescription sleep aid.

May I bring a friend or family member with me to the classes?

Yes, of course. We encourage you to bring your support people to class. We believe there is strength in numbers and this is especially true if they will be the ones to help you through this process.

How long will my joint replacement continue to hurt and swell?

The pain after total hip replacement usually decreases during the first month. Then it may come and go for several months. The swelling usually increases during the first few days home from the hospital. This is improved by spending two hours in bed each day with the feet elevated above the heart. Swelling is generally worse in the evenings and is increased by exercise.

Should I walk with a cane or crutches when the hip doesn’t hurt?

The joint should be protected for two months after surgery regardless of how good it feels. Short walks inside the house without cane or walker will not harm the hip, but excessive pressure too early can delay healing and cause pain.

Should I use my elastic stockings?

If your leg swells, use elastic stockings until swelling subsides


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