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Five Common Questions about Orthopaedic Surgery, Answered.

While all patients have unique circumstances and our orthopaedic experience is highly customized … there are a few questions that are routinely asked in preparation for a joint replacement.

When can I bathe after surgery? Patients are free to shower after surgery, as long as the incision is kept covered. Submerging the incision in a bath tub is not allowed until it is totally healed, which take a few weeks.

Should I use ice after surgery? Yes, keep your leg elevated and use ice to reduce swelling applying 20 minutes at a time, every hour. This is an effective strategy to relieve pain, but if ice is left on too long, it can be harmful. Ice after therapy sessions can also relieve soreness.

When will I be able to navigate the stairs? Within the first one-to-two weeks after surgery you should be able to walk up and down stairs with graduated comfort. The pace at which one regains agility on stairs depends on the individual case and is hard to predict. Most patients are able manage a few stairs within days after surgery. Patients are instructed how to manage stairs before discharge from the hospital.

How long will I be taking pain medication? Everyone has their own pain tolerance and pain experience. Some level of pain is to be expected with a total joint replacement. Some people take pain medication only for the first few days, while others need medication for a couple of weeks. There is no right answer, but we do want patients to take medication if pain is inhibiting mobility. Movement after a joint replacement is the best recuperation strategy. Be sure to discuss any and all medication questions with your physician.

When can I drive? Driving is an individual matter and there is no specific time restriction. Some people regain coordination and reflexes quickly, while do not for several weeks. Driving should be limited while taking pain medication because it can make you drowsy and decrease your awareness and reflexes. Other factors include which leg was operated on (left or right) and whether surgery involved a hip or knee. Again, your physician will guide your recovery strategy based on your individual needs and circumstances.

If you have questions about your upcoming orthopaedic surgery please call our coordinator, Kelli at 847-5309.

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