Frequently Asked Questions

Joint Replacement FAQ's

  1. How long will my prosthesis last?
  2. How long is the surgery?
  3. Can I go home alone after my joint replacement surgery?
  4. How long does home care come to my home after I am discharged from the hospital?
  5. Do I need a hospital bed at home?
  6. Can I go up and down steps?
  7. Why do I have to wear stockings (TEDS), and how long will I have to wear them?
  8. What should I do if my foot swells?
  9. How long do I have to keep doing the exercises?
  10. How long do I need to maintain hip precautions?
  11. When can I take a shower?
  12. When can I start driving?
  13. When can I go back to work?
  14. When can I start crossing my legs and sleep without a pillow between them after hip replacement?
  15. When can I resume sexual activity and what precautions should I take?
  16. How long till I am 100% again?
  17. Why does my dentist need to know I had a joint replacement?

1: How long will my prosthesis last?
This varies from 15 – 25 years, depending on your age, weight and activity level.

2:  How long is the surgery? 
Actual surgical time for total hip or knee replacement surgery is around 1 ½ hour. There is also pre-operative (preparing for the surgery) and post-op time in the recovery room. 

3: Can I go home alone after my joint replacement surgery?
For safety reasons, we do not recommend going home alone after total hip or total knee replacement surgery. You will be tired, taking pain medications and recovering from major surgery. You will need someone to assist you with your needs throughout the day.

4: How long does home care come to my home after I am discharged from the hospital?
Homecare Physical Therapists usually come to your home for approximately two weeks, two to three times a week.  They will be reassessing your progress during each session.  After homecare, your surgeon will probably order outpatient Physical Therapy.  He will let you know at your first post operative appointment the next steps in your recovery.

5: Do I need a hospital bed at home?
Our patients do not usually go home with a hospital bed. We encourage you to resume your previous activities of daily living as soon as possible. To relieve nighttime discomfort you may want to get up and move around or change positions. You may want to go from bed to recliner at night.

6: Can I go up and down steps?
Most patients who are discharged directly to home are able to go up and down steps.  We do not recommend going up and down steps multiple times per day, but once down in the morning and then back up at night.  While performing steps, we recommend that you have someone with you for the first week. Your homecare therapist will be assessing your safety on steps during their visits.  While in the hospital, we recommend that you discuss with your individual physical therapist your progress on the steps and ask for their recommendation prior to discharge to home.

7.  Why do I have to wear stockings (TEDS), and how long will I have to wear them?
If prescribed, they need to be worn for 8-12 weeks after surgery to prevent blood clots.

8: What should I do if my foot swells?
Try to elevate your foot in between activities. If swelling does not go down overnight, contact your doctor.

9: How long do I have to keep doing the exercises?
Specific exercises for your joint replacement should be done for the rest of your life. Regular exercise should also be a lifetime commitment.

10. How long do I need to maintain hip precautions?
A general rule is 6 months. You must ask your surgeon this question. However, you should always avoid the dangerous combinations of flexion and internal rotation of the operated leg, or hyperextension.

11: When can I take a shower?
You can take showers upon approval from your physician. You may need to cover your incision during your shower until the staples are removed and the wound is dry.

12: When can I start driving?
You may resume driving when you are able to brake safely in an emergency, and when you are no longer taking pain medication, which may slow your responses. Check with your surgeon to find out when this will be for you.

13: When can I go back to work?
Usually 4-6 weeks depending on the type or work you do. This should be discussed with your doctor

14: When can I start crossing my legs and sleep without a pillow between them after hip replacement?
Typically after 6 months but please verify with your physician.

15: When can I resume sexual activity and what precautions should I take?
Please discuss this with your occupational therapist. They can provide you with guidance and materials.

16: How long till I am 100% again?
We say it can take up to 6months for your hip or knee to be 100%, without discomfort, pain or swelling. If you are following your post-operative exercise program, everyday should be better and easier than the one before

17: Why does my dentist need to know I had a joint replacement?
Your new joint is foreign to your body and bacteria will be attracted to it. We have a lot of bacteria in our mouths and good dental hygiene is very important to prevent infections. Your dentist may put you on an antibiotic if you are having dental work done.

 

Common Symptom

Recommended Action

Difficulty Sleeping

  • You may take Tylenol PM.
  • Drink warm milk before bedtime
Lack of appetite
  • Eat small, frequent meals.
  • Drink Carnation Instant Breakfast or Ensure
Constipation
  • Dietary changes, such as prune juice with breakfast or drinking more fluids.
  • Use a stool softener, such as Colace
  • Use a laxative such as Milk of Magnesia, Dulcolax tabs or suppository or a Fleets enema.
Swelling
  • Apply an ice pack 20 minutes after exercise.
  • If swelling does not go down overnight, notify your physician.

Numbness along incision

  • This is normal

Drainage from incision

  • Change bandage daily
  • Remove bandage when oozing stops
  • If drainage continues, notify your physician

Clicking with knee bending

  • Occasionally you may feel soft clicking of metal and plastic. This is normal.

Activate alarm

  • Your knee or hip may activate metal detectors required for security in airports. Carry your joint replacement confirmation card with you.

Mood swings Feeling "blue"

  • Mood swings are normal. These sad feelings should improve with time. Call your physician if your emotional recovery is not progressing.

 


Jefferson Regional Medical Center
565 Coal Valley Road
Jefferson Hills, PA 15025
412-469-5000

Physician Referral:
412-469-7000

Community Programs:
412-469-7100

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