Total Joint Replacement: Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any risks in having a joint replacement surgery?
All surgical procedures involve risks. Your surgeon will discuss with you the major risks associated with your procedure. You will be treated with antibiotics before and after surgery to help avoid infection. You will also receive anticoagulant (blood thinning) medication to decrease the risk of developing blood clots. Please discuss any concerns you have regarding your joint replacement with your surgeon.

Will I be awake during surgery?
Two types of anesthesia are most commonly used for joint replacement surgeries. General anesthesia allows you to sleep during the procedure. Spinal anesthesia is also an option for some patients. It allows certain areas of the body to be numbed for a procedure while also receiving medication to make you sleepy. There are several determining factors into which type of anesthesia is recommended for each patient. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will discuss the options with you before surgery.

How long will my surgery last?
Average surgery time for a joint replacement is one to three hours. Your time may be more or less, depending on your specific circumstances.

Will I have pain after surgery?
Joint replacements are major procedures and you will experience some pain afterwards. Most patients will have a moderate amount of discomfort for the first couple of days after surgery. Pain medications will be administered to you through an IV and then with pain pills. Our staff is dedicated to helping you manage your pain and learning other techniques that will increase your comfort level.

When can I walk?
You may get up and walk with a physical therapist on the day of surgery, if your doctor has ordered it. Otherwise, you will begin physical therapy the morning after surgery. We ask that you always call for assistance in getting out of bed. Your physical therapist will inform you when you are safe to move on your own.

Will I need a walker or cane after surgery?
You will need an assistive device, such as a walker, cane or crutches, after surgery. These will only be temporary and your surgeon will determine how long you will need the device. We work with you and your insurance provider to provide you with the appropriate equipment before leaving the hospital.

When can I shower?
Your surgeon will determine when you may shower after surgery. Our staff will assist you with daily baths while in the hospital. You will not be able to sit down in a bathtub for several months after surgery. Talk with your surgeon on how long you will need to wait before sitting in a bathtub.

How long will I be in the hospital?
The average stay for a joint replacement is three to four days. Your stay with us may be shorter or longer, depending on your progress. Our social worker will help you with a discharge plan to home, rehabilitation center or skilled nursing facility.

Will I need home health or physical therapy at home?
You will receive visits from a home health nurse and a physical therapist at your home after surgery. A representative from the home health agency will visit you in the hospital and provide you with more information. Physical therapy will also continue at home or in an outpatient setting. Following home health, your physician may recommend you have outpatient physical therapy.

Can I drive after surgery?
You cannot drive immediately after surgery and should have arrangements for someone to bring you home from the hospital. Typically patients may resume driving four to six weeks after surgery. Discuss with your surgeon when you may begin driving after your joint replacement.

When will I need to see my surgeon again?
Your doctor will instruct you on when a follow-up appointment will be needed. You will also be given instructions at discharge on how to contact the surgeon’s office to make an appointment or if you should have any issues after returning home.