Hip and knee replacement are extremely effective at improving or eliminating hip and knee pain and dysfunction. While some patients will experience these tremendous improvements in pain and function very quickly, the typical recovery period is more modest occurring over a 6-12 week timeframe. Having appropriate recovery expectations can help to avoid set-backs from “over-doing it” and can actually lead to a more efficient recovery.
Directly following surgery, you will arrive in the recovery room (PACU). Most patients are very comfortable at this time due to the numbing medication injected in the joint during surgery, but pain medication will be available if needed. You will likely notice the sequential compression device on your leg to promote blood circulation and prevent blood clots. For primary, uncomplicated hip or knee replacements, Dr. Chaudhary does not routinely use a urinary catheter.
It’s very possible the hospital or surgery center staff will want you standing and bearing weight on your joint replacement later today, and you’ll be walking with support before you go home. The faster you mobilize your joint after surgery, the faster your recovery. However, remember, recovery is a process, and it will take time for your joint to heal; so be patient.
During the first few days following surgery, you will still be taking medication to help with any pain that is lingering. Try to minimize or avoid narcotic pain medication if possible as there are many side effects associated with these medications. Dr. Chaudhary’s multi-modal pain regimen will help you to minimize or avoid these medications. Additionally, you may work with a physical therapist or follow instructional videos to ensure the hip or knee is being moved and exercised appropriately. Mobilization following a hip or knee replacement is crucial, as it allows your body to adapt to the new implant. The primary goal of mobilization is to allow your hip or knee to perform daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs and getting in and out of a car.
Following joint replacement surgery, patients may go home the same day or have a short hospital stay. Dr. Chaudhary to minimize or eliminate the hospital stay through his minimally invasive procedures and muscle sparing technique, multimodal pain control regimen, and his thorough preparation and recovery pathway. This applies to both hip and knee replacement. Once patients go home, the recovery process continues.
Long-term use of your new hip or knee implant depends greatly upon the care that is taken in the months following surgery. Dr. Chaudhary will provide specific instructions for care, helping you to ensure that your joint reaches its maximal potential.
Once you go home, keep an eye on your bandage. Prior to discharge from the hospital or surgery center, Dr. Chaudhary or the hospital staff will instruct you on how to care for your incision and bandage. 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.
Following a knee replacement, rehab and physical therapy will continue with a therapist once you go home. This will continue until you have regained maximum range of motion of your knee and are able to operate completely independently. Most patients achieve maximal rehabilitation within several months following surgery. In addition to therapy, you should take part in short walks and other mild activities. If there is any soreness, you should cut down the gradient and apply a cold pack, but don’t stop completely. Continued movement is vital to a full recovery.
Following a hip replacement, Dr Chaudhary recommends rest, walking, and a home exercise program. Self-directed therapy has been found to be successful in restoring function to patients undergoing total hip arthroplasty.
During your recovery, regular exercise to restore mobility and strength in addition to gradual return to everyday activities is important to your overall recovery. Throughout the entire recovery process it is important to listen to your body. If a particular exercise or movement elicits pain, further rest is necessary in the healing process.
Most importantly, the office of Dr. Chaudhary is always available during your recovery period. If there is any trouble, we want to know about it. Any questions or concerns will be addressed rapidly, and if you even want to come by and see us, that will be encouraged. However, we will not simply wait for complications to see you—after your surgery, you will be asked to schedule follow-up appointments so Dr. Chaudhary can monitor the recovery process.
Even once you have returned to your full physical capacity, it is important to remain active. Rarely does Dr. Chaudhary place “official” restrictions on your activity, although Dr. Chaudhary would prefer low impact exercises over high impact exercises or contact sports going forward. Dr. Chaudhary will continue to see you over the years to ensure that the joint is wearing and functioning properly. At any point following your surgery, his office will be available as a resource for any questions or worries that may arise. At the office of Dr. Chaudhary, our first priority is our patients’ well-being. Please call us if you have any questions or concerns.