Joint Replacement FAQs continued
Can my family stay with me?
Your family may stay with you until you are taken to the operating room.
Do I need to be "put to sleep" for this surgery?
You may have a general anesthetic, which most people call being "put to sleep." Some patients prefer a spinal or epidural anesthetic, which numbs your legs without requiring you to sleep. You can discuss options with your anesthesiologist.
Will the operation hurt?
Many patients only experience mild discomfort in the days and weeks following joint-replacement. However, after years of living with joint pain, for most it is a welcome relief. As with any surgery, individual patient results and experiences vary. Make sure to talk with your doctor before surgery about your pain management options. You may receive pain medicine through your IV, through the epidural or in shots or pills. Most likely, you will be mobile within hours of surgery.
How long will the surgery take?
Depending upon the difficulty of your case, surgery can take anywhere from one to three hours, with an additional two to three hours in the recovery room.
Who will perform the surgery?
Your orthopaedic surgeon will perform the surgery. If an assistant helps, they may bill you separately.
Will the surgeon see my family immediately after surgery is completed?
Whenever possible, the surgeon or one of his assisting surgeons will meet with family members immediately after surgery. If for any reason this is not possible, you may contact the doctor's office to arrange a time to discuss how the surgery went.
What will my hospital stay be like?
- You will most likely be "groggy" at first from the medications you receive in surgery. You will be transported from the recovery room to your hospital room once your surgeon and medical team deem it safe for you to be transferred.
- Once you are fully awake, you will be able to drink and eat as tolerated. Your vital signs, urinary output and any drainage will be monitored closely by nurses on the orthopaedic surgery floor.
- Pain medicine may be monitored closely. Make sure to talk with your doctor before surgery about your pain management options. You may receive pain medicine through your IV, through the epidural or in shots or pills. It may also be administered intravenously by "pain pump" for the first 24 hours, which allows you to control your own pain level up to a predetermined dosage.
- Starting on day one post-operatively you will work two to three times a day with physical and occupational therapists, who will go over exercises and help you adapt daily activities to your post-operative limitations.
How long will I be in the hospital?
Most patients are hospitalized about two to four days, including the day of surgery. This may be extended to include treatment at a rehabilitation center or sub-acute facility. You should contact your health insurance provider to find out what, exactly, is covered and to obtain these provisions in writing.
Do I need someone to stay full-time with me when I go home?
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 them up on the offer! If you can't arrange a full-time helper, perhaps a friend of neighbor can call daily to check on your progress. Home care can also be arranged through your case manager.
When can I go up and down stairs?
Many patients can climb stairs before leaving the hospital.
Will I need pain medicine after I’m discharged?
Most patients do benefit from a short-term course of pain medication. Expect to take some kind of pain medication for several weeks after discharge – especially at night or before therapy sessions. You can call your doctor's office for prescription renewals.
How long will I need to use my walker or crutches?
Your orthopaedic surgeon will work with your physical therapist to develop your specific ambulation plan. Generally, patients use a walker or crutches for the first six weeks after surgery. Then, they can graduate to a cane for about six weeks before walking on their own.
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