Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery

Immediately After

After surgery you will spend at least an hour in the recovery room. While there, your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored closely until you are stabilized. You will have a mask over your face for oxygen.

You will find a large dressing has been applied to the surgical area to maintain cleanliness and absorb any fluid. If you had a hip replacement, you may also notice a V-shaped wedge pillow (abduction pillow) between your legs. This keeps your new hip in the best position while you are in bed.

Knee replacement recipients may use a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine to continuously bend and straighten the knee quadriceps (thigh muscles). This machine, propped under your leg in bed, helps keep your knee from becoming stiff after surgery.

Back in Your Room

Once your condition is stabilized post-surgery, you will be transported to your own hospital room where you will continue to have your vital signs and surgical dressing monitored. Once you’ve settled in, several members of your care team may drop in to orient you to your hospital routine.

Pain Management

Some patients experience back discomfort after surgery. This is caused by general soreness of the surgical area and the prolonged lack of movement before, during and after surgery. Periodic change of position helps relieve discomfort and prevents skin breakdown.

You will be able to have medicine for pain so you can move around without much discomfort.Make sure to talk with your doctor before surgery about your pain management options. You may receive pain medicine through your IV, through the epidural or in shots or pills.

Breathing

Right after surgery, the health team will remind you often to take deep breaths and coughs. It is very important to do this at least every 2 hours. Deep breathing can help prevent pneumonia or other problems that can slow down your recovery and lengthen your hospital stay.

Your doctor may want you to use a device called an incentive spirometer, which helps you breathe in and out correctly. Using it regularly can help keep your lungs clear.

Your Diet

Immediately after surgery, you can have a diet of clear liquids or soft foods as tolerated. If constipation becomes a problem later on, try:

  • Eating 5-7 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables daily
  • Eating a hot breakfast with a hot beverage daily
  • Increasing fiber in your diet with whole grain cereals and breads
  • Drinking at least 6-8 8oz. glasses of water daily
  • Increasing physical activity as much as you can tolerate