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Your Recovery

Q: What equipment will I need at home?

A: If you have hip or knee replacement surgery, you will need a raised toilet seat and standard walker. A tub bench and grab bars in the tub or shower are helpful too. Your occupational therapist may also recommend a reacher, a sock aid, a long handled shoe horn, elastic shoelaces and a long-handled sponge or back brush

 

Q: Will I need physical and occupational therapy at home?

A: You will need both. Your home care coordinator will arrange for a physical therapist to provide therapy. An occupational therapist will assess your ability to manage your daily living activities and guide you through hygiene, dressing and homemaking skills while following your hip precautions.

 

Q: When can I drive myself?

A: You may not drive after joint replacement surgery until cleared by your surgeon.

 

Q: When can I go back to work after joint replacement?

A: You may go back to work when approved by your surgeon—usually 6 weeks for non-physical work and 12 weeks for more strenuous jobs.

 

Q: When can I have sexual intercourse?

A: You can usually resume sexual intercourse after 3 to 6 weeks. You occupational therapist can share a guide on sexual intercourse and discuss it with you upon request.

 

Q: What activities may I participate in after recovery?

A: You should discuss specific activities with you surgeon, but you are encouraged to participate in low impact activities such as walking, dancing, golfing, hiking, swimming, bowling, bicycling, boating and gardening as soon as you feel able.

 

Q: When will my pain go away?

A:You can expect to have some pain for several weeks. However, the post surgical pain you experience will be different from the deep, aching pain you may have experienced prior to surgery. Your new prosthesis (artificial joint) should eventually relieve the pain and stiffness you had prior to surgery.

Q: How long will I have to use my walker or crutches?

You can expect to be getting up and walking the day after surgery. You can expect to be using the crutches or a walker between 2 and 4 weeks. As you progress, your surgeon or physical therapist may suggest the use of a cane. Eventually, you may not need any assistive device, depending on your general health prior to surgery.

Q: Is there anything I can do that will damage my new joint?                      

Your new joint will be very strong and secure after surgery. However, there are some precautions that MUST be followed to ensure that your joint stays in good condition. If you fall, your new joint can be damaged. Ask your surgeon or refer to the Guide to Total Joint Replacement for more information.

Q: How long will my new joint last and can a second replacement be done?

A: Total Hip Replacements: We expect most hip replacements to last 20 years or longer. A second replacement can be completed.

Total Knee Replacements: We expect most knee replacements to last 15 years or longer. 

Q: Why do joint replacements fail?

The most common reason for failure is loosening of the artificial surface from the bone. The moving parts of the Implant can also wear out over time.

Q: Where will I go after discharge from the hospital?

Increasingly, insurance companies are promoting joint replacement patients doing their post-surgical recovery at home as opposed to a skilled nursing facility. We suggest that you assume that this is a strong possibility no matter what your insurance coverage is and that you ask yourself the following questions prior to your surgery date:

1. Is my current home environment conducive to a safe home discharge?

e.g. Clearing clutter out of the way, throw rugs removed, railings on stairways. If I am able to navigate stairs before surgery, will I be able to navigate them after surgery?

2. If my current home environment will be challenging, what will my alternative be and have I set that up? Do I have a friend or family home to go to?

3. Will I have a caregiver(s) that will be able to stay overnight upon my return home and help prepare a meal or aid in dressing? If not, what is my plan?

4. What, if any, durable medical equipment do I currently have and what do I anticipate that I might need in addition? ie. Walker, cane, crutches

5. How will I get to my follow up medical appointment and to outpatient physical therapy if needed?

6. Have I contacted my insurance company? Do I have co-pays or deductibles?

Note: If your insurance company states that you have coverage for skilled nursing facility (rehab), that does NOT mean that you will necessarily qualify for it.

Your insurance company may determine that you are safe to discharge directly to home. They do not consider stairs or living alone a reason for discharge to a skilled nursing facility. Your progress will be reviewed in the 1-3 days post-op. If your insurance company determines that you are safe to discharge to home with homecare services, but you feel that you want to go to inpatient rehab, then you will be responsible for paying the daily rate privately.

The average length of stay at a rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility is 5-10 days before discharge to home.   Please refer to your Guide to Total Joint Replacement for further details.

Q:  Will I need help at home?

Yes. Family and friends will need to be available to help for the first week following your surgery. Your home care coordinator will arrange for a nurse and physical therapist to come to your house as needed.

Q:  What if I live alone?

Plan to have your surgery when family members or friends will be available to help for the first week after surgery.  Living alone is not a factor in your Insurance approving payment at a skilled nursing facility, even if you have coverage.  Qualifying for a skilled nursing facility will be determined by your insurance company after your surgery, based on your medical needs.

Q:  Will I need any equipment?

Yes. A raised toilet seat or commode, standard walker, a tub bench and grab bars in the tub or shower will be helpful. If you have stairs at home, a cane or crutch will be needed to use on the stairs. Your occupational therapist may also recommend a reacher, a sock aid, a long-handled shoehorn, elastic shoelaces, a long-handled sponge or back brush.

Q: Will I need physical therapy when I go home?

Yes. The home care coordinator will arrange for a physical therapist to provide therapy in your home. The length of time needed for physical therapy after surgery should be discussed with your surgeon.

Q:  Will I need occupational therapy?

Yes. We recommend an occupational therapist evaluate your ability to manage your activities of daily living in your own home. He/she guide you safely through your hygiene, dressing and homemaking skills while following your joint precautions.

Q:  How long until I can drive and get back to normal?

You may not drive until cleared by your surgeon.

Q:  When will I be able to go back to work?

As approved by your surgeon, usually 6 weeks for non-physical work and 12 weeks for more strenuous work.

Q:  When can I have sexual intercourse?

The time to resume sexual intercourse is usually between 3 to 6 weeks. Your occupational therapist has a guide on sexual intercourse and will discuss it with you upon request.

Q:  How often will I need to be seen by my surgeon following the surgery?

Your first post-operative office visit will be:

•             4 to 6 weeks after your surgery for Total Hip Replacements, or

•             2 to 6 weeks after your surgery for Total Knee Replacements.

The frequency of follow-up visits will depend on your progress. Many patients are seen at 6 weeks, 12 weeks, and then yearly or as directed.

Q:  What physical/recreational activities may I participate in after my recovery?

You are encouraged to participate in low impact activities such as walking, dancing, golfing, hiking, swimming, bowling, bicycling, boating and gardening. It is recommended to discuss activities with your surgeon.

Q:  Will I notice anything different about my joint?

Yes. You may have a small area of numbness to the outside of the scar, the joint may feel stiff with movement.

Total Knee Replacement: There may be a slight swelling and warmth for a year.  A "clicking" sound or sensation is a common finding and represents normal mechanical contact of the plastic and metal components in your knee prosthesis