Are you planning to have total joint replacement surgery? Here are ten frequently asked questions to guide you on your journey to better joints. 

What tests will I need before surgery?

You will be required to have routine blood work and urinalysis before your surgery, as well as a physical examination completed by your surgeon. If you are older than 50 and have a cardiac or respiratory history, then you must also have an EKG and chest X-ray prior to surgery. Most pre-admission testing can be performed at the hospital where your procedure will be performed. 

When should I arrive at the hospital for surgery?

You should arrive at least two hours before surgery to go through admissions, change into hospital clothing, meet the anesthesiologist and nursing personnel, and address any questions about your procedure. Do not eat or drink after midnight on the day of your surgery unless otherwise instructed. You may be allowed to take pre-approved medication with the least amount of water necessary.

What should I bring to the hospital?

  • Your personal toiletries and shaving gear
  • Comfortable and loose-fitting clothing
  • Slip-on shoes or slippers with closed backs
  • A list of current medications, including dosages
  • Any paperwork the hospital has requested
  • If you have a walker, ask someone to bring it at discharge so a physical therapist can review it for stability
  • Do not bring: radios, televisions, large amounts of cash or credit cards, or other valuable items 

How long will the surgery take?

Surgery typically takes anywhere from one to three hours, with an additional one to one-and-a-half hours in the recovery room. Everyone’s case, however, is different, so you should discuss this with your doctor.  

Will the operation be painful? 

Many patients only experience some discomfort in the days and weeks following joint replacement; however, after years of living with joint pain, most find it is a welcome relief. As with any surgery, individual patient results and experiences vary. Make sure you talk with your doctor before surgery about pain management options. 

 When can I engage in sporting activities?

You may be able to try swimming, distance walking, hiking, bicycle riding, golfing and other low impact sporting activities after a few weeks of rehabilitation and recovery. Discuss your activity level and abilities with your doctor.

When will I be able to have sexual intercourse after surgery?

In most cases, you may resume sexual activity when you feel comfortable enough to do so. In general, most patients resume normal sexual activities within four to six weeks after surgery.

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 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.

When can I drive?

Most patients must wait for six weeks before driving. However, some physicians may allow the patients to drive earlier if they feel the patients can do so safely. The type of surgery, side of surgery (left leg vs. right leg) and the patient’s overall general condition will play a part in that decision. 

When can I go up and down stairs?

Many patients can climb stairs before leaving the hospital. 

Remember to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about your surgery with your doctor. The success of your joint replacement is dependent on you, so be sure to follow any steps recommended by your surgeon as you work toward your goal of an improved lifestyle with your new joint.