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What To Expect After Hip And Knee Joint Replacement Surgery

If you’re considering joint replacement surgery, you probably have a lot of questions — especially about what happens afterward. Whether you’re getting a knee or hip replacement, it will take some time to recover. But what does the recovery process look like, exactly? How long will it take? Will you be in pain? And when will you be able to return to your normal activities?

At Beebe Healthcare, we’re committed to making recovery from joint replacement surgery as easy and pain-free as possible. You’ll be in good hands with the care team at our new Specialty Surgical Hospital. To help you prepare, here are five things to expect after joint replacement surgery.

Your pain will be well managed throughout the process

The level of pain people experience after joint replacement surgery varies from person to person. At Beebe Healthcare, we do our best to keep you as comfortable as possible from the moment you leave the operating room.

You may receive nerve blocks during and immediately after surgery to help control the pain as the anesthesia wears off. After surgery, you may receive prescriptions for pain medicine such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, and nerve pain medications. Your doctor may also prescribe a short-term opioid to be used only at certain times, such as before or after physical therapy, or if you experience pain while you sleep.

After surgery, you will likely experience moderate to severe swelling for a few days or weeks. And you may have mild to moderate swelling for several months. Elevating your legs and applying ice to the area can help reduce swelling and pain. Wearing compression stockings can also help.

You may be able to go home within 24 to 48 hours of surgery

Most hip and knee replacement surgeries take one to two hours. They are usually outpatient procedures, which means you can go home the same day. In some cases, you’ll need to spend the night in the hospital.

Before you go home, your care team will make sure you can get in and out of bed and get to the bathroom. Our providers will encourage you to get moving as soon as possible, which will help aid your recovery.

Your doctor will help you avoid blood clots

Both hip and knee replacement surgery increase your risk of blood clots, which commonly occur in leg veins. Blood clots can become dangerous if they travel to your lungs, heart, or brain.

To reduce your risk, your doctor will likely prescribe blood-thinning medications to take for several weeks after surgery. It also helps to get moving as soon as possible after surgery and apply pressure to your legs with compression stockings or inflatable air sleeves.

You’ll be put on a physical therapy regimen

Whether you’ve had a hip replacement or knee replacement, physical therapy is an essential part of the recovery process. At Beebe Healthcare, we can provide physical therapy in your home or at one of our physical rehabilitation offices in Sussex County.

Your physical therapist will give you exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles around your hip or knee joint. You will start the exercises as soon as 24 hours after your surgery. Your therapist will monitor your strength and flexibility and help you safely return to your normal activities. The length of physical therapy varies from person to person, but you can expect to commit to it for at least six to eight weeks.

Once you recover, you’ll be able to return to doing the things you love

The time it takes to recover from joint replacement surgery differs for everyone. It depends on a few factors, such as your age, activity level before surgery, and other health conditions. After hip replacement surgery, most people can return to their normal activities within three months. For knee replacement, you may be able to get back to your usual activities after six weeks. Full recovery from hip and knee replacement surgery takes about a year.

The goal of joint replacement surgery is to help you get back to a fully active lifestyle. Most people experience improved mobility, pain relief, and a better quality of life. You’ll be able to do a variety of low-impact activities like walking, biking, swimming, and golfing. Talk to your doctor before engaging in high-impact activities like running or sports that involve jumping or contact with others.

The bottom line

Joint replacement surgery can relieve chronic pain and allow you to do what you love, whether taking a stroll with a friend, riding a bike, or swimming with your grandkids. At Beebe Healthcare, our medical team will do everything we can to help you make a speedy recovery. If you’re interested in knee or hip replacement surgery, talk to your primary care provider about getting a referral to see an orthopaedic specialist near you. Need a primary care provider? Call 302-645-3332 to schedule an appointment with a Beebe doctor.