What to Expect After Joint Replacement

You and your care team have decided that the pain you’re experiencing would be best treated with a total joint replacement (also called arthroplasty). While the OR is the most invasive part of the journey, your recovery is key to the overall success of your surgery. While you might be familiar with what to expect on the day of surgery, what will life in the first weeks after joint replacement look like?

By having a joint replacement with the highly skilled, comprehensive team at The Orthopaedic Center, you’ll be empowered at every step of the way. You’ll be prepared for what to expect post-operatively and well-informed on the ins and outs of recovery to get back to living with minimal pain.

The Right Care Team

The surgeon you select is the captain of your joint replacement team. At The Orthopaedic Center, our board-certified surgeons specialize in the latest, state of the art technology. including minimally invasive, computer-navigated total hip replacements from the anterior approach.

Technology such as robot-assisted surgery with the Velys platform is also utilized, allowing your surgeon to make a surgical plan tailored to you, which may improve the precision of the surgery. It’s important to note that robotic surgery is not performed solely by robots. Rather, the surgeon guides the robotic arm through the procedure.

As North Alabama’s leader in robotic surgery, the surgeons at The Orthopaedic Center continually train to garner all that technology offers for a safe, effective, and smooth surgical process.

What to Expect Post-Op

Recovery after joint replacement is as unique as the person who underwent surgery, considering your age, the severity of the condition you’re seeking to remedy, other medical conditions you have, and your ability and willingness to adhere to your postoperative treatment plan. While this information is a general guide, be sure to talk to your care team about what to expect in your specific situation.

Your postoperative treatment plan will be multifaceted, including follow-up visits with your surgeon and physical therapy (PT) as prescribed. Depending on which joint you had replaced, PT may begin hours after your surgery. At The Orthopaedic Center, this process is streamlined and under one figurative roof with multiple locations for ease of access, so all you have to focus on is healing—not the logistics of traveling and coordinating between different practices.

The First 2 Weeks

Depending on specific details from your surgery, many patients can go home the day of surgery or may potentially stay in the hospital for postoperative observation for one day.

For the first two weeks, you’ll be primarily focused on mobilizing more and more. It is important to understand that pain is a normal part of the recovery process. You may also feel extremely tired as your body recovers or feel stiff after you’ve sat still for a while – both are common.

You may also notice bruising, swelling, or numbness around the surgical site. While these changes are often expected after surgery, they may also be a sign of a complication, particularly if in combination with shortness of breath, chest pain, or a high fever (over 101⁰F). If you think you may be experiencing a complication, please call your surgeon right away.

Week 3 to Month 3

Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication in the postoperative interval. However, you and your surgeon should work together to create a plan that uses as little pain medication as possible while still keeping you relatively comfortable. Pain medications are often associated with adverse outcomes that should be avoided.

If you had your knee replaced, safely regaining your range of motion and walking without assistance are top goals. Patients often hear a clicking sound when moving, possibly due to the metal or plastic implants that were inserted. But this noise should be less noticeable over time.

After a hip replacement, be sure to follow your surgeon’s directions to lower the chance of dislocation – especially within the first three months. Any postoperative limp you experience should go away with time and exercise.

What Next?

While full recovery after a joint replacement is truly 1 or even 2 years, many patients feel better than prior to surgery much quicker. In as little as two or three months many patients are able to return to work, are able to drive, and can engage in light physical activity.

Over 1 million people per year have a joint replacement. But at The Orthopaedic Center, we’re focused on your joint replacement – it’s one in a million to us. Our multidisciplinary team is here to compassionately care and work alongside you, from pre-operative consultations to post-operative physical therapy and beyond.

Are you ready to focus on a better you? Request an appointment with our committed care team by clicking here today.