Recovering from Joint Replacement After Discharge from the Hospital

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Discharge from the Hospital

By the third post-op day, we anticipate most patients will be prepared for discharge. 

Multiple factors will determine if you will be able to return directly home after discharge from the hospital, or if you would benefit from the care of a subacute rehabilitation facility (short-term stay) before returning home.

Age, overall health, assistance at home, physical barriers at home and insurance coverage may determine your discharge destination. Your discharge care manager will assist you to make that transition.

Subacute Rehab Centers

If your orthopedic surgeon has concerns about your safety and well-being at home, he or she might recommend that you be discharged to a subacute rehabilitation center.

Your care team and family members will assist you in making this decision and which facility is right for you. 

Click here for a list of subacute rehab centers.

Outpatient Physical Therapy

We believe that the greatest benefits from physical therapy occurs in an outpatient center setting and strongly encourage outpatient appointments as soon after surgery as possible.

Click here for a list of outpatient physical therapy centers.

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Caring for Yourself at Home

If you are going directly home from the hospital, you will receive instructions on how to climb stairs, and get in and out of a car safely.

It is best for someone to be with you the first 24 to 72 hours after discharge. If you live alone and a friend or relative offers to stay with you, take him or her up on the offer! If you cannot arrange a full-time helper, perhaps a friend or neighbor can call daily to check on your progress.

Home care can also be arranged through your case manager if you meet home health care criteria and your doctor orders it. A nurse, physical therapist or occupational therapist can visit your home in the weeks following your surgery. Exactly how many visits are covered by your insurance is a question your care manager can answer for you after you have had your surgery.

Catholic Health offers short-term home care through McAuley Seton Home Care

Caring For Your Incision

You will receive instructions on how to care for your incision before you go home. Some surgeons use specialty dressings that are waterproof while other surgeons prefer the standard gauze dressing that cannot get wet. Your surgeon will let you know when you can take a shower. You will not be able to sit in a tub for approximately 12 weeks.

Precautions for Hip Replacement Patients

Following total hip replacement surgery, certain positions cause undue stress on your hip and could cause the prosthesis to dislocate. Your surgeon will determine which precautions you should follow to make your recovery safe and comfortable. Please follow your precautions until cleared by your physician.

Do not:

  • cross your legs at the knee or at the ankles
  • use a pillow between legs when lying in bed
  • use pillow between legs when turning on the side
  • lean forward when getting up
  • allow the knees to go higher than the hips when seated

Anterior hip replacements are also not allowed excessive separation of legs.

Do:

  • Keep things in arms reach to avoid the urge to lean forward
  • Keep your chair at the correct height, with a level seat
  • Use a raised toilet seat

Click here to download our precautions for hip replacement patients.

Returning to Work & Everyday Activities

Joint replacement surgery is a major event in your life. The recovery time will vary from person to person based on their age, physical health and commitment to their rehabilitation program. Your surgeon will let you know when you can begin driving again.

Your return to work is dependent on the type of work you do. In some cases patients can return to work in as little as four weeks and with others it may be as long as three months. If your employer requires proof of surgery, speak with your surgeon’s office regarding any documentation required by your employer. 

Sexual activity is not recommended during the initial recovery time due to pain and swelling. Total hip patients will need to avoid positions that may cause them to dislocate their hip.

Continuing Physical Therapy 

Your physical therapist can assist you in determining how many times per day you need to exercise your joint. However, many patients find that continuing to do their exercises increases their strength and endurance. Most patients need to follow hip precautions for eight weeks.

Your orthopedic surgeon will let you know how long you should follow hip precautions.

Pain Medication

Your need for pain medication will decrease as you recover from joint replacement surgery. Most patients will gradually decrease their pain medication as they return to their everyday activities.

Follow-up With Your Surgeon

You should schedule your first post-operative appointment prior to surgery, when you have your first appointment with your doctor.

During the first year following your surgery, routine follow-up visits may be scheduled with your orthopedic surgeon. You will be asked to return for annual visits thereafter to assess the status and function of your implant.

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