Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the joint replacement surgery take?
Total knee, partial knee and shoulder replacements take about 1 hour of surgery time.
How long will I be in the hospital?
Partial Knee Replacement patients usually go home the same day Total and reverse total shoulder replacement patients spend 1 night in the hospital Total Knee replacement patients spend 1-2 nights in the hospital
When can I walk on my new knee?
We get all of our patients up, moving and walking on the same day of surgery. Our physical therapists will teach you the best ways to get in and out of bed and how to walk to strengthen and rehabilitate your new knee. You will most likely need a walker for the first week or two after surgery.
When can I use my shoulder? How long do I have to wear the sling?
Following total shoulder and reverse total shoulder replacement your arm will be in a sling for comfort. You are allowed to remove your arm from the sling and move your arm and shoulder in basic motions. We are not operating on your elbow, wrist, hand, and fingers and you should move them to keep from getting stiff. You will be taught pendulum exercises to keep the shoulder supple and moving. You should not try to raise your elbow above your shoulder or put your operative arm behind your back but you may use your arm in front of you (much like “making a pizza”). You will be able to write, use a computer, brush your teeth, feed yourself, etc… You will not be able to brush and wash your hair with the operative arm. You should NOT lift anything heavier than 2 pounds with your operative arm. Lifting restrictions will be removed as you progress through physical therapy. The sling is usually discontinued after 4-6 weeks.
When can I take a shower?
Upon leaving the hospital there will be a clear bandage over the wound. This bandage is waterproof and you may shower immediately. This bandage should be removed by you in 3-5 days after going home. After removal of the bandage the wound should be left open to the air and only covered when you shower. You may take a shower after bandage removal as long as you cover the surgical site with plastic. We recommend Glad brand “Press and Seal,” as it provides excellent waterproofing for showering.
When do I return for my post-operative appointment?
We prefer to see our total joint replacement patients about 2 weeks after surgery for their post-operative visit. The post-operative visit includes x-rays, wound assessment, and if necessary, staple removal.
How much help am I going to need after surgery?
Regardless of joint being replaced, you will be up and walking immediately. You will be able to take care of basic activities by yourself. You will be much slower after surgery and you may need help with more complex tasks. We prefer that patients have someone at home all the time for the first few days after hospital discharge. Following the first few days, patients may be alone as long as they can reach others for assistance, if needed.
When can I drive after surgery?
Total and partial knee replacements should not drive for 2-3 weeks, depending on which knee was replaced. Total shoulder replacement patients may drive sooner.
How much physical therapy will I need?
Everyone is different in their therapy protocol, but generally total knee replacement patients need 6-12 weeks of therapy. Total knee replacement patients begin therapy immediately after surgery. Total and reverse shoulder replacement patients generally need 8-16weeks of therapy. Total and reverse total shoulder replacement patients begin therapy at about 1 month post-op.
How long will I need pain medication?
This is a very individual answer. Pain medication is necessary to participate in the therapy that is important to your overall healing and improvement. We ask that patients take pain medication only if they have pain and to try to discontinue use of narcotic medications within 4-6 weeks after surgery. Federal laws now require handwritten prescriptions for narcotic medications. These cannot be refilled by phone.
Do I have any life-long restrictions?
Total joint replacements were initially developed for pain relief. Today’s joint replacement patients are active individuals who want to return to an active lifestyle. The quality of the materials have dramatically improved and extended the lifespan of the replaced joint. We do not recommend that knee replacement patients begin or return to running or jogging for exercise. Walking is a better choice and reduces wear and tear on the replaced joint.
Do I have to do anything special when I go to the dentist?
We recommend that after joint replacement, all patients should take preventative antibiotics prior to any dental procedure for the remainder of their life. Furthermore, we ask that patients refrain from routine dental appointments in the first 3 months following joint replacement to reduce the risk of infection. If joint replacement is in your future, attending to dental issues is best done prior to surgery.