You’re thinking about a total joint replacement. And there is a lot to think about when it comes a new knee or hip joint. “The actual surgery for knee replacement or hip replacement is very common, but gives a patient much to consider, “ says McLeod Orthopedic Specialist Dr. Michael Sutton. “Testing, the day of surgery, pain, coming home, returning to your life and work. Here are some tips on avoiding problems after your surgery so that you get the most out of that new knee or hip.”
Your Orthopedic Surgeon will take precautions to avoid blood clots by giving you blood-thinning medication. They may also recommend special support hose for weeks or months.
Once you’re home, keep an eye out around or near your surgical site for the signs of a blood clot:
See your Orthopedic Surgeon if these problems appear.
If ignored, the blood clot could break off and land in your lung, creating a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. Call 911, if the signs of a blood clot are accompanied by sudden chest pain or shortness of breath.
Again, your Orthopedic Surgeon and the hospital staff will work to ensure that you don’t develop any infections.
Once you’re home, keep an eye out for swelling, tenderness or discharge around the incision – or pain from inside the knee or hip. Report any symptoms to your doctor. Caught early, most infections can be treated with antibiotics.
Planning to see your dentist? Tell them in advance that you’ve had a joint replacement. They’ll give you an antibiotic to avoid possible infection during your dental visit. Bacteria can loosened and travel to your artificial joint – even during a simple cleaning of your teeth and gums.
Not a problem for knee joint replacement patients, but hip joint replacement patients may notice that your legs are unequal in length after surgery. Muscle weakness or swelling around the hip can cause this feeling by creating an abnormal tilt to your pelvis.
Stretching and strengthening exercise can return the pelvis to its normal position. If the problem persists, a small lift in one shoe will help.
A very small percentage of knee and hip replacements become dislocated after surgery. This can be painful and may require additional surgery. To help prevent dislocation:
Treat your hip or knee joint replacement right, and it will last you 15 to 20 years. In addition to watching for the potential problems mentioned above, add some moderate exercise to your regular routine. It will help build your muscle and keep the new joint working smoothly.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Heart Association, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, The Arthritis Society, The American College of Rheumatology, National Institutes of Health