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Post-Surgery Care

After your surgery and recovery period, a private room in the North Cypress Comprehensive Total Joint Center will be waiting for you. Your stay will last approximately two or three days and will include pain management, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and training with your “coach”. Most patients attend out-patient physical therapy about three days per week for one month following surgery. This will be setup for you before you are discharged from the hospital. Following surgery, meal preparation, bathing, and using the restroom may still be difficult for you to do alone. Be sure you have a close friend or family member nearby if you find you are having trouble. Be sure to carefully follow these post-surgery general care instructions:

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy will continue as your new joint improves. You will also be responsible for following a daily exercise program outlined by your Physical Therapist during your stay in the hospital. The success of your surgery will depend largely on your diligence, cooperation, and attention in adhering to your physical therapy program. Remember to take your pain medication at least 30 minutes prior to your planned activity.

Caring for your Incision

Keep your incision clean and dry. You may shower and will be given home-bathing instructions before leaving the hospital. Do not immerse your incision in water, such as a bath tub or swimming pool, until your physician clears you to do so. If you notice a sudden increase in swelling, redness or warmth, or are running a fever of 101.5 degrees or more for over 24 hours, contact your surgeon. 

Recognizing and Preventing Potential Complications

Signs of Infection-
  • Increased swelling or redness at the incision site
  • Change in color, amount, odor of drainage
  • Increased pain in hip or knee
  • Fever greater than 101 degrees for 24 hours
Prevention of Infection-
  • Take proper care of your incision as instructed
  • Take prophylactic antibiotics when having dental work or other potentially contaminating procedures for at least 2 years following surgery. Some patients may be asked to do this forever- talk to your surgeon or Dentist about this.
  • Notify your physician and dentist that you have had a total joint replacement
Blood thinning- Your physician will prescribe a blood thinning medication for you to prevent blood clots. Do not take Aspirin while taking the blood thinner prescribed by your physician. If your physician prescribes Lovenox, your nurse will instruct you on home administration of this medication. Pain- Take your prescribed pain medications. Pain medication will most likely be taken before physical therapy activities. Take the medication 30 minutes prior to activity for maximum benefits. Once you are no longer taking blood thinning medications, anti-inflammatory medication may be taken if you have no history of gastric problems. Swelling- You are encouraged to continue the use of ice for 20 minute intervals to your incision for 2-3 days following discharge. Also, elevation of your operative extremity will help if swelling is persistent. If your knee was operated on, elevate it above your heart by using a bed pillow. Do not place anything directly under your operative knee that will keep your knee in a bent position for an extended period of time.  Dental Procedures- You must always be pre-treated with antibiotics prior to any dental appointment. Please inform your dental care provider that you have had a total joint replacement. Your dental care provider will prescribe the appropriate antibiotic. 

Recovery and Rehabilitation

The afternoon after your surgery, you will be assisted by the Physical Therapist, or the nursing staff to sit at the bedside for a few minutes with progression to standing at the bedside as tolerated.   Hip replacement patients will be assisted to walk to the restroom.   Knee replacement patients will be assisted to stand and pivot onto a bedside commode.   Thereafter, there are daily therapy sessions between 9-11am and 1-3pm.   Full recovery time depends upon the overall health of the patient, but typically can take 3 to 6 months.   The rehabilitation process begins while you are still at the hospital and continues on an outpatient basis once your return home.   It is vital that you take an active role in the rehab process to get the most from your surgery. 

Self-Care After Joint Replacement Surgery

  • Attach a reacher to your walker with a sticky-backed Velcro to retrieve objects from the floor or high cupboards.
  • Tie a plastic bag to your walker to carry items around the house (cut handles on the plastic bag and re-tie around the walker).  You can also use a purse or tote bag.
  • To reduce bending and reaching, move most used items in each room of your home into easy reach (shoulder to waist level).  Leave daily used items out on counters.
  • If you are alone part of the day, carry a portable phone, personal alarm, or whistle with you in the walker bag to call for help in case of emergency.
  • A rolling cart helps move heavier or multiple items from room to room.
  • Remove throw rugs from the floor to avoid tripping.
  • Use a high stool in the kitchen during meal preparation.  Also slide objects across the counter top instead of carrying them.
  • Move pet bowls up on top of a box, low table, or other raised surface to decrease the need of bending to the floor.
  • For laundry, a reacher helps with loading and unloading clothes from the washer and dryer.  A rolling cart helps move clothes to and from the laundry room.  Store detergent in an area of easy access that allows dispensing without bending and reaching.
  • Acquire help for cleaning and chores as needed (family, friends, or hired help).
If you have any further questions regarding your post-surgery instructions, please do not hesitate to ask your surgeon or call the Joint Center at 832-912-9812. To learn more about Hip Replacement, Click Here.

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