Planning for your hip or knee surgery prepares you for the operation and helps to ensure a smooth surgery and easier recovery. Here are certain pre-operative and post-operative guidelines which will help you prepare for hip or knee surgery.
- Prior to surgery, Dr. Eccles’ office will schedule your pre-admission testing appointment where you will be given a physical, obtain the required laboratory testing, and possibly an EKG to make sure you are safe to have surgery. You will also meet again with Dr. Eccles to answer any questions, sign consent forms, and be provided with certain things to optimize your outcome prior to your day of surgery.
- Unless instructed otherwise, “Do Not Eat Anything after Midnight Prior to Your Surgery”. Unless instructed otherwise, you can drink CLEAR liquids such as Gatoraide, soda, or water up until TWO hours of your surgery start time. You may be allowed to take certain medicines, with a small sip of water, on the day of the surgery.
- Please stop taking all aspirin products, herbal or vitamin supplements and anti-inflammatory medicines at least seven days prior to the surgery. If you are on blood thinning medications, ask your doctor about the discontinuation of this medication prior to the surgery. This is crucial as these medications increase the risk of bleeding and complications of anesthesia. If required Tylenol (Acetaminophen) may be taken prior to surgery for pain relief or headache.
- Please inform your doctor about all the medications you are currently taking and clarify as to what can and cannot be taken prior to the surgery.
- Please inform your doctor of any change in your medication between your pre-operative visit and the day of the surgery.
- Also, inform your doctor if you develop any illness prior to surgery even if it’s a minor problem such as a skin problem or a cold. An infection in the body increases the risk of operative site infection. The lungs should be clear before giving any local, regional or general anesthesia. If the doctor feels that the change in health will affect the outcome of the surgery, the surgery may be postponed to a later date.
- If you are unable to undergo the surgery, for any reason, kindly inform the doctor as soon as possible.
- You will be provided with specific instructions about bathing prior to surgery to help prevent infection.
- Please make arrangements for someone to drive you home after the surgery as you will not be able to drive yourself home.
Post-operative guidelines needs to be as follows:
Hip or knee replacement surgeries are performed to replace parts of a diseased hip or knee joint with an artificial prosthesis. The goal of joint replacement is to eliminate pain and return you to your normal activities. You can help in the early recovery and improve the outcomes of the procedure by following certain precautions and changing the way you carry out your daily activities.
After joint replacement surgery, once the anesthesia wears off, you will start to experience some surgical pain, for which your doctor will prescribe medication. You may have to remain in the hospital overnight or longer depending on your progress and overall health. Your surgical incision will be covered with a sterile dressing and you will be given instructions how to care for this.
Rehabilitation begins within hours of surgery, where a physical therapist will help you stand up and walk using a walker at first. Adhering to the goals of the rehabilitation program is important to help you recover and resume your normal activities. You will be guided to perform strengthening and learn how to safely perform activities of daily living. When you are discharged from the hospital, you will be encouraged to walk with an assistive device at first, climb stairs, dress, bathe and perform other basic functions by yourself as you recover and get back to living life normally.
On reaching home, have a family member or caregiver assist you with your activities for a few weeks. Taking care of someone following hip or knee replacement surgery requires compassion, awareness, and patience. Basic points to follow by your caregiver:
- Helping with basic movement and functions as well as emotional support
- Having a clear understanding of your medication and ensuring they are administered in a timely manner
- Keeping emergency numbers ready
- Assisting you with household chores, paperwork and traveling to keep your appointments
- Helping and motivating you to perform your rehabilitation exercises
- Ensuring that furniture is rearranged so as not to interfere with your movement and cause falls.
- To avoid bending or reaching out, items that you use frequently can be placed easily within reach.
Unless otherwise instructed, you may shower the day after surgery and let the water run over your waterproof dressing. It is important to keep the incision dry until it fully heals so avoid soaking in a bathtub, pool, or ocean until instructed by your surgeon. Most dressings can be removed 7 days after surgery and you can shower as normal and pat the incision dry after.
Some amount of swelling is completely normal after joint replacement and may last for some months after surgery. Swelling as well as pain can be controlled by icing your operative area and elevating your leg. Specifically for knee replacement patients, if your “toes aren’t above your nose,” your leg isn’t elevated enough. Also for knee replacement patients, do not place a pillow underneath your knee when you resting, but rather place it under your heel to keep working on knee extension.
Over the coming weeks, you should be able to move with minimal assistance and a significant reduction in pain. Your physical therapy program will gradually include new and more difficult exercises as you improve in strength and flexibility. Walking at least 2-3 times a day is recommended for a faster recovery. To reduce stress, use the opposite leg to lead when climbing stairs and the operative leg to lead when descending. You will be able to drive a few weeks after surgery when you are no longer taking narcotic medication during the day, have improved strength, and can easily enter and exit a car.
You and your caregiver must be aware of the signs of infection. Contact your doctor’s office if you notice any abnormal wound changes such as persistent drainage, excessive swelling or redness, or any changes in general health and mental state.