Recovery after joint replacement
You’ll get back to light physical activity soon after joint replacement surgery at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. With rehabilitation, therapy, and support, you can look forward to living life without joint issues slowing you down.
For the surgery, you may receive a moderate level of general anesthesia along with spinal (regional) anesthesia. This combination makes sure you stay asleep and don’t feel pain, but lets you get moving as soon as possible after you wake up.
After joint replacement surgery, your care team will help you manage your pain safely with a proven multi-modal pain management approach. Multi-modal pain management uses multiple types of medications that work in different ways.
For example, Tylenol works on your brain to relieve pain, while non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications work to help reduce the production of chemicals in your body that create inflammation. When we combine these medications, the ability to reduce your pain to a tolerable level increases greatly.
In addition to medications, we use non-medication therapies including cold therapy, music therapy, position changes, and physical therapy to prevent and/or decrease pain.
Starting to move again
Your care team will help you walk within four hours of surgery. Timely physical activity can:
- Increase your blood flow to improve healing
- Reduce risk of complications, including blood clots
- Shorten your hospital stay
Start your rehabilitation in the hospital with physical and occupational therapists (as needed). Expect to learn how to get out of bed by yourself, get dressed, and safely use the bathroom.
Prior to your surgery, your surgeon’s office will assist you in setting up outpatient therapy. Outpatient therapy is where you visit the healthcare facility for rehabilitation appointments and go home afterward.
It is extremely important to set-up your outpatient therapy as soon as you set a surgery date to ensure you can get an appointment. Continue therapy for several months as you build strength and flexibility in your new joint. Most patients start outpatient PT according to the following schedule:
- Total Knee Replacement: 3 days after surgery
- Total Hip replacement: 5-7 days after surgery
- Total Shoulder Replacement: At your surgeons discretion
Leaving the hospital
Expect to stay in the hospital for just one night and to have your support person, or another designated person, take you home the next day after surgery. Your coach, or support person, will need to stay with you for 3-5 days after surgery.
For your recovery at home you will receive:
- A prescription for pain medicine, if you did not receive one before surgery
- A prescription for a blood thinner, if you require one
- Detailed written discharge instructions
- Elastic stockings (TEDS) if ordered
Transportation home from the hospital:
- Sit in the front passenger seat, with the seat back as far as possible for maximum leg room.
- If your drive is more than 1 hour, stop about every 45 minutes to stand up and stretch for 5-10 minutes
- Have someone assist you when getting out of the car
- If possible, avoid riding home in a vehicle that is hard to get into like a compact car or high-suspension vehicle
- Wear your seatbelt
At Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, you can count on your entire care team to help you go home as soon as possible, so you can feel more comfortable during recovery.
Follow-up appointments and calls
Expect a follow-up appointment with your surgeon to:
- Check on your health
- Make sure you’re getting all the postoperative (post-op) care you need
- Discuss when you can return to certain activities
- Schedule more follow-up appointments to monitor your recovery
You’ll also receive check-in calls or messages from the nurse navigator or joint replacement coordinator through Force for three months. Take these opportunities to ask questions and learn about resources that may help you and your loved ones throughout your recovery.