What Every Patient Should Know About Joint Replacement Surgery at NOCHS

If you’re contemplating a knee or hip replacement, you probably have a lot of questions.  It’s even more likely that you’re not sure what questions to ask.

Here are some of the questions that are most pressing to our patients.  You should know the answers to these questions before you sign up for a procedure.

Unless there is some specific reason for another approach, all joint replacements at NOCHS are done using the Mako System, because it provides superior patient outcomes. Surgeries performed using the Mako System typically involve a more precise joint replacement, less blood loss, and less soft tissue disturbance. This means our patients require fewer narcotic drugs and have a much faster recovery period. Sample Description
With the advances made possible by Mako robotic-arm assisted surgery, most of our patients go home the same day, as long as they can bear weight and move around. If you do need to stay overnight, you will enjoy a private room at NOCHS!
We have been able to relax our COVID restrictions significantly. As of right now, you may have two people with you in the outpatient area, which is where you will start out, and where you will return after your surgery. No one but the patient and the medical providers are allowed in the surgical suite.
Joint replacement surgery involves two kinds of pain control. Our surgeons use peripheral nerve blocks that are injected directly into the area of the replacement. Those last 10-24 hours. By law, they can also prescribe a 7-day supply of a narcotic pain medication. The goal is to control pain enough to permit movement, because movement is essential for joint replacement recovery. The faster you can transition from narcotics to Tylenol while still able to move, the better off you will be. Again, surgery performed with the Mako System involves far less soft tissue damage, which in turn causes less pain and less need for narcotic pain control.
The incisions are relatively small (smaller with robotic assistance than without) and we no longer use staples to close them. Instead, we use special waterproof glue. This means you can shower the day after surgery without worrying about getting your incision wet.
A physical therapist will come to your room a few hours after surgery to help you get up and get moving. Knee replacement patients do usually need additional physical therapy to help regain full range of motion. If you have a hip replacement, your physician may prescribe physical therapy to help you regain more strength and mobility.
Four to six weeks is common, but it really depends on your work and how well your body heals. You will not be allowed to drive or operate heavy machinery while on narcotic pain medications. You will need to be up and moving consistently for the first month after surgery to help prevent blood clots. Talk to your doctor about your work and what a realistic schedule could be.
Your surgeon can help you make the decision about when it is time. However, most of our patients who have delayed come back and say, “ I wish I had done it a long time ago.” Remember that the more debilitated you become, the longer it will take to recover.
We do require a pre-surgical clearance from your primary care physician. S/he will determine what precautions need to be taken based on your individual health situation. We also highly recommend that you attend our Joint Replacement Class, either in person or via recorded video. This will help you understand the process, and help you understand what special accommodations you’ll need to have in your home after surgery. You will also gain an understanding of post-surgical restrictions and how long they are in effect.
We require all of our knee and hip replacement patients to wear compression stockings on both legs for one month. These help prevent dangerous and potentially fatal blood clots. All joint replacement patients have some initial weight lifting restrictions, and some hip replacement patients also have some restrictions as far as bending. Other than that, normal walking and movement are encouraged to help you heal as quickly as possible.

If you are considering joint replacement surgery, please contact Kelli, NOCHS Orthopedic Coordinator at 616-847-5309 with any questions or to find a local orthopedic surgeon. 

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