What to expect in recovery

Do's and don'ts
As a general rule, all joint replacement recipients should heed the following limitations during the first weeks after surgery:
  • Expect to use a cane or walker for several weeks

  • No kneeling, bending, or jumping for the first month

  • Don't drive until okay with your doctor (usually 4-6 weeks)

  • No alcohol with pain medication

  • Don't smoke—it slows healing

  • You may hear some clicking in your knee as it heals; it's normal

  • Avoid sexual activity until after 6-week checkup

  • Continue wearing elastic stockings until your return appointment

Guidelines for physical activity
In general, physical activities should:
  • Not cause pain, either during activity or later

  • Not jar the joint, such as when running or jumping

  • Not place the joint in extreme ranges of motion

Additional tips for living with your new joint
  • Ask for help—while your goal is to eventually do things for yourself, don't take unnecessary risks by trying to do too much too soon.

  • Keep your appointments with your doctor—it's important to monitor healing and function on a regular basis. You may need to check in with your doctor 2 to 3 times during the first 2 years and at intervals of 2 to 3 years thereafter. During those visits, your surgeon will take X-rays and monitor wear.

  • Under optimal conditions, your artificial joint may last for many active years. The lifetime of any device is limited and depends on several factors like weight and activity level. You should always consult your orthopaedic surgeon if you begin to have pain in your artificial joint or if you suspect something is not working correctly.

  • Watch for infection—your new joint is a foreign substance to your body. Germs from other infections can move to your new joint and cause infection. Call your family doctor immediately if you have any signs of infection, eg, skin infection, urinary tract infection, abscessed teeth, etc. Early treatment is crucial.

  • Alert your dentist or family physician—tell them about your joint replacement before any dental work or procedure, such as a cardiac catheter, bladder exam, or surgery. You may need to take antibiotics to prevent infection.

  • Your new joint may set off metal detectors in airports and other secured buildings. Your doctor can give you an identification card to carry in your wallet.

Week 6 check-in

Generally by week 6, you may be able to return to many activities such as driving, bicycling, and golf. Individual results vary and not all patients will return to the same activity level. The lifetime of any device is limited and depends on several factors like weight and activity level.

When you see your surgeon for follow-up 2 to 6 weeks after surgery, he or she can advise you on both short- and long-term goals.

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