Keep your wound clean and dry. Your nurse will let you know on the day of surgery how long your incision should be covered. You can remove the drain site dressing the day after you get home.
If you have a knee replacement, use the TED hose to keep the dressing in place. Do not use any adhesive. Change the gauze pad daily.
If you have a hip replacement, remove the dressing at one week and let open to air.
You are allowed to shower. Remove the dressing, use gentle soap, pat the incision dry, and place a clean and dry dressing over the incision. Do not place any creams, lotions, or ointments over the incision.
Pain Relief at Home
You will be given a prescription for narcotic pain medication. Do not take with any other sedating/hypnotic medication or any other sleep aid. One side effect of the pain medication is constipation. You will be given a prescription for a stool softener and laxative called Senokot-S. You should take this medication while you are taking pain medication. You may also use other over-thecounter stool softeners and laxatives that are available.
Ice packs can also help with pain management. Use ice packs 20 minutes every hour as needed and especially after therapy exercises.
Preventing Blood Clots
In rare cases, blood clots, called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may form in the leg after joint replacement surgery. In rare cases, these clots travel to the lungs where they may cause additional symptoms. To prevent and reduce the incidence of blood clots, you will be given prescription for a blood thinner such as aspirin, Eliquis, Xarelto, or Coumadin, to take for a total of 4 weeks after surgery. Mechanical devices such as calf or foot pumps will squeeze the leg or foot to maintain blood flow in the veins. You will wear these devices while you are at the hospital or Surgical Center. It is also important for you to wear the TED hose as directed. TED hose compress the veins and decrease the chance of blood clots. You are to wear the TED hose 24/7 for the first two weeks after surgery and then you can take them off at night and wear them during the day for the next two weeks. It is also important to stay active and perform ankle pumps of both extremities several times an hour. This can be completed by “writing the alphabet” with your feet.
Preventing Respiratory Complications
After surgery, you must make a conscious effort to take deep breaths and cough in order to prevent post-operative respiratory complications like pneumonia. You will also be sent home with a device called an Incentive Spirometer. You should use this 10 times each hour while you are awake.
Swelling in the leg after joint replacement is normal. Bruising may also appear and will resolve gradually over several weeks. Periods of walking should be alternated with periods of elevating the swollen leg. You should not sit for more than 30-60 minutes at a time. Performing ankle pumps and applying ice packs will also reduce swelling.
Post-Operative Orders for Joint Replacement