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Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery

Your Knee / Hip Replacement Surgery

Patients who plan to undergo Total Joint Surgery are encouraged by their orthopedic surgeons to attend the Total Joint Pre-Op Class. This program will help you to better understand what will occur before and after your surgery.

We recommend that all patients attend a short Preoperative total joint class that reviews what to expect pre and post-surgery.

After Surgery: What to Expect

Following your surgery, you will go to the recovery room which is called the Post Anesthesia Care Unit or PACU. You can expect to be there for at least an hour. While in the PACU, we monitor you closely. When you are ready you will be placed in your hospital bed and transferred to the 6th floor that specializes in Orthopedics.

Recovery from joint replacement surgery can vary between individuals. Some patients may progress faster than others. Our team of health care professionals will work with you to make sure your recovery program is what's best for you.

You might be sleepy the first night following your surgery due to medications and anesthesia. However, even though you may be sleepy, we may get you out of bed the first evening.

Controlling Pain

Our goal is to control your pain as much as possible. Depending on your specific needs, many patients receive nerve blocks which will decrease your pain after surgery. With a nerve block, you will not need as much pain medicaitons by mouth or IV. Other patients may receive patient controlled analgesia or PCA. The PCA machine allows you to control your own pain relief by pushing a button.  It is regulated so that it will not give you too much or too little pain medication.

We will be checking your vital signs: blood pressure, pulse, temperature and your surgical bandage frequently the night of your surgery. They will ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being terrible pain. Please let your nurse, physician assistant or surgeon know if the nerve block or medications we are giving you are not controlling your pain. We will work with you to make sure that you are as comfortable as possible. An ice pack is usually placed on your surgical bandage to help lessen the swelling.

We ask that each family designate one individual to act as a contact person. This preserves your privacy and limits phone calls, allowing your nurse to spend more time caring for you. The contact person may call the unit day or night for information regarding your progress. They should ask for the nurse who is caring for you. We ask that the family contact person try not to call during change of shift times, which are 7:00am, 3:00pm, 7:00pm and 11:00pm. 

Open visitation plays an important role in your healing and recovery. Family and friends are welcome to visit often while their loved ones are in the hospital. Visiting privileges are not restricted or denied unless medically necessary.

At this point the most common questions is, "When can I eat?" Depending on how you feel after surgery, you may receive sips of liquid. Usually on the first day after your surgery you will be feeling much better. You will sit up in a chair and be asked to bathe yourself with the assistance of our health care team members. Our team will also continue to monitor your progress.

A physical therapist will visit you in your room to review the exercises you can do and may assist the nursing staff in getting you out of bed.

Usually by the second day after your surgery, we will stop your PCA. At this point you'll need to let your nurse know when you require pain medication. We will change your dressing and remove your IV line as well.

Your Discharge

The focus of the Orthopedics team is to help you learn to help yourself— and you are the most important member of the team. It is extremely important that you attend all of your therapy sessions. The outcome of your surgery is based on your hard work, as well as the care you receive from your health care providers.

The Physical Therapist will help you to walk with your new joint and begin to help you with the necessary exercises needed to help strengthen your new joint. Please bring tie shoes or sneakers with you to the hospital; they will help you to walk more easily. We will continue to encourage you to stay up and to walk for longer distances each day. Remember to ask for pain medications as you need them. Usually pain medications can be taken every 4 hours as needed.

You will feel stronger each day and have less discomfort.  We will encourage you to do as much as you can for yourself.  We suggest your family attend therapy sessions with you.  Besides exercising and walking, we will also have you practice going up and down stairs. You may want to bring your clothes and get dressed while in the hospital. We find that people feel better wearing their own clothes.

Call don't fall.

Depending on your needs, the Occupational Therapist will provide adaptive equipment that will help you after your hospital discharge. It's helpful to practice using this equipment while in the hospital so that you are comfortable with it by the time you go home.

By the 2nd or 3rd day, most patients are ready to be discharged, either to their home or a rehabilitation facility. Your case manager will help you to decide the plan that is best for you.  

Part of our job—and yours—is to prepare you for discharge. We will expect you to climb up and down stairs, perform your exercises, and walk with the aid of a walker or crutches before you are discharged from the hospital. By the end of your hospital stay, your strength will improve.