1) What is the chance for success?
One year after surgery, most patients – more than 95% – say the surgery fulfilled their expectations and that they would do it again. They are walking with minimal pain and generally are more active than before surgery. So the chances for success, if judged in this manner, are very high.
2) How much pain will I be in?
The level of discomfort varies from patient to patient, but most people report minimal pain 48-72 hours after hip or knee replacement surgery, provided that they are taking their prescribed medication and following their doctor’s instructions. Patients also need to follow their prescribed physical therapy regimen. Typically, patients are on prescription pain medication for about a month before switching to an over-the counter medication such as ibuprofen or Tylenol.
3) How long will be my recovery take?
Recovery time will vary widely among different patients depending upon their age, general health and other factors. In most cases, patients will use a walker or crutches for several weeks to a month after the operation, and then transition to a cane outdoors, with no support around the house. Within 2-3 months, most patients return to normal ambulatory function without any assistance. For some, however, the process will go faster and for others it will take longer.
4) What kind of assistance will I need during recovery? Will I need physical therapy?
Because patients need help standing and going up and down stairs during at least the first week after surgery, they will need some assistance at home. This can be provided by a family member, a friend or a home health care service. Also, patients will be visited by a physical therapist two to three times a week who will design a home exercise program that the patient can eventually do without any assistance.
5) When can I go back to work?
It depends upon the nature of one’s job. If a patient’s job is fairly sedentary, he or she can probably return in 1 month. If one’s work is active in nature, the patient may need up to 3 months off before returning to full-time duty. In some cases, more or less time off will be necessary.
6) When can I drive?
Patients should wait 4-6 weeks before driving again, particularly if it is their right side that they have been operated upon. They should be completely off prescription pain medication.
7) When can I travel?
Patients may travel once they feel comfortable doing so, as long as they can continue their prescribed exercises. They should get up to walk or stretch at least once an hour and stay well-hydrated if taking long trips in order to prevent blood clots.
8) What activities are permitted while I am recovering from surgery?
Generally, patients can return to whatever activities they feel comfortable doing, including walking, gardening and dancing. Sexual intercourse is safe too. Patients should avoid high-impact stresses such as running and jumping.