Post-Operative Joint Replacement FAQ
Joint replacement surgery will take approximately 2 hours to complete, but the exact time will vary based on the patient’s needs. After surgery is completed, patients will move to a recovery room, where it will normally take 1 to 2 hours for patients to awaken fully from the anesthesia. Patients are then transferred to a hospital room, in which they will stay for their in-hospital recovery, and nurses will continually check the patient’s vitals to make sure that temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rate are normal.
For any post-op pain the day of and day after surgery, patients will receive pain medication through an intravenous (IV) tube, in addition to antibiotics (to prevent infection) and fluids. Patients will receive fluids until they are able to eat and drink again.
Patients who undergo joint replacement surgery will be required to stay at the hospital for 3 to 7 days after surgery, to ensure a proper recovery. As with any surgery, patients will often experience some pain post-op. To make the patients stay more comfortable, pain medications will often be administered through an intravenous (IV) tube for one to two days after surgery, after which patients will often begin a regimen of oral pain medications.
The day after surgery, patients will begin mobilization activities to build up muscle strength, gain control of the new joint, and speed up healing. A physical therapist will typically meet with the patient the day after surgery to help patients learn how to use their new joint and ways to promote blood flow.
Patients are typically able to return home 3 to 7 days after surgery; however, Dr. Kruse will determine when a patient is ready for discharge on an individual basis. Before returning home, patients will often be required to complete the following tasks:
- Get in and out of bed and a chair by themselves
- Bend and straighten the joint
- Walking with the assistance of a walker or a crutch on a flat surface, as well as up and down a few stairs by themselves
- Properly perform recommended at home exercises
Upon returning home, joint replacement patients should take precautions to limit the amount of stress placed on the joint during daily activities. To avoid falls, the removal of throw rugs and electrical cords is recommended, as well as rearranging furniture to increase walking space.
In addition, the use of bathroom aids, such as a shower chair or gripping bar, will make bathing easier and safer, and placing frequently used items in a centralized area, to minimize stair climbing, is recommended. Wound care is a critical component of the recovery process; as such, wounds should be kept clean and dry, especially until sutures or staples are removed.
It is often recommended that patients return to daily activities on a gradual basis, slowly incorporating simple activities as they regain joint strength and flexibility. Patients are typically able to return to the majority of their daily activities 6 to 8 weeks after surgery, but will need to avoid participating in activities that involve running and/or jumping for an additional period.
It is safe for patients to return to dancing, golfing, and bicycling; but patients should avoid activities such as weight lifting, tennis, and basketball for an additional 4 to 6 weeks, to prevent damaging the new joint.