Medically reviewed by Rodney Alan, MD McLeod Orthopaedics
Sam looked up as his Orthopedic Surgeon entered the exam room. “I think we need to move to a total joint replacement on your knee,” said the surgeon. Sam didn’t hear much after that. The surgeon’s comments were drowned out by the waterfall of questions washing over Sam’s brain. “Questions are common for people facing major knee or hip joint replacement,” says Orthopedic Specialist Dr. Rodney Alan. “Each patient has some questions specific to their situation, but a study funded by the National Institutes of Health identified the 4 Most Important Questions patients have about their pending joint replacement surgery.”
Will the surgery affect my abilities to care for myself?
In the weeks after the surgery, you will need a relative or friend to help you at home. Going up or down stairs, standing for more than a short time, reaching above your head to retrieve a book or items in the kitchen will be difficult. Pain is normal after the operation. You may need pain medication for 6-8 weeks.
Am I going to need Physical Therapy?
Yes. In most cases, the hip or knee replacement patient is walking the first day after surgery. A formal physical therapy program – either in your home or at a physical therapy facility near you – will begin as soon as you return home.
How mobile will I be after my surgery?
In the days immediately after your discharge from the hospital, you will spend considerable time sitting at your “Command Center”, probably in front of the TV. As your physical therapy progresses, your mobility increases. Your improved mobility is largely dependent on how much you devote yourself to the therapy program.
When will I be able to walk normally again?
Physical therapy may take several days a week for 6 to12 weeks, depending on your overall physical condition before the joint replacement. After completing physical therapy, you will be able to walk normally but without the pain you felt before the surgery.
Walking, biking and other low-impact recreation is encouraged to continue your personal therapy, as well as keep your weight under control.
Other articles you may find helpful:
Find an Orthopedic Specialist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, National Institutes on Health, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons