Hip and Knee Replacement FAQs: After Your Operation

Q1. When will I be going home after my operation?

You will go home once all your therapy stages are complete and when you are safe and confident using your crutches.  Our aim is for an average length of stay of 3 days for routine hip or knee replacement surgery.  This can however vary depending on the complexity of your surgery.

Q2. What happens about my medication when I go home?

All your routine medication that you brought in with you will be returned. 
If we have started you on any new tablets / injections, you will be supplied with sufficient to complete the course at home. 
A nurse will talk you through your medication prior to you leaving the ward.

Q3. What equipment will I need?

The hospital staff will discuss your individual requirements and will provide information and some equipment as necessary. 
PLAN AHEAD, it may be necessary for you to hire or buy some of the equipment that you will need when you go home after your operation.

Q4. Does the hospital provide compression stockings?

At RJAH, we use alternative methods to reduce the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis.

Q5. Concerns about clots?

To reduce your risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or commonly called clots, you may be prescribed medication such as Clexane injections.
It is also important that you keep yourself well hydrated with non-alcoholic fluids, take regular exercise and avoid sitting for long periods of three hours or more at a time.

Q6. Will there be swelling and bruising?

It is normal to have a degree of swelling and bruising, this affects different people to a greater or lesser extent, after hip and knee replacement surgery.
If you are concerned about the level of swelling or bruising after your discharge home please ring our helpline number 01691 404223 (or your GP or 999 for an ambulance).

Q7. How much will I be able to do?

By the time you leave hospital, you will have seen our advisory DVD and will have been shown how to get in and out of bed, how to use the bathroom and kitchen safely as well as how to cope with basic activities.

Q8. How long will I need to keep the dressing on for?

The dressing needs to stay in place until any clips and external sutures are removed and your wound is dry.
Once your wound is dry and well healed, you can apply moisturising cream to your scar, if you wish.

Q9. Will I have physiotherapy after discharge?

If you have had a knee replacement, outpatient physiotherapy will be arranged for you by our team.  This will be at a department that’s closer to your home, unless you prefer to return to this hospital.
For hip replacement patients, the best form of exercise is walking. Gradually increase the distance you walk as your general health allows.

Q10. How long will I need to use my crutches for?

Your consultant will give you specific instructions – please do ask.

Q11. What analgesics (pain relief) should I take?

If required, do take the tablets prescribed for you as directed on the label. If this doesn’t resolve the pain, please speak to your GP.

Q12. I am worried about falling after my operation.

You will be shown by the therapy team and ward staff how to get about safely and will have time to practice in hospital before you go home.

Q13. Worried about dislocating your new joint?

This applies mainly to hip replacement. For the first 8 weeks to 12 months, avoid excessive bending or twisting after your hip is replaced.

Q14. When will I be able to return to using the shower?

You can do this when you feel safe getting in and out. For people with walk in showers, this should be immediate, however the Occupational Therapist is the best person to discuss this with.

Q15. May I sleep on my side?

For hip replacement patients, the advice is to sleep on your back for the first 6 weeks. After this time, you can start to sleep on either side.

Q16. How long do I have to wait after my operation to drive?

On average you should be able to drive approximately  6 - 8 weeks after your operation, however this depends on your mobility level and the complexity of your operation as well as your consultant's post operative instructions.
To be able to drive safely, you must be able to operate the foot controls well enough to perform an emergency stop, without causing you pain or strain.
If you had a left hip or a left knee replacement and drive an automatic car – you can drive as soon as it is comfortable to sit in the car.
Start with short journeys.

Q17. When will I be coming back to clinic?

Your first appointment should be within 12 weeks of your surgery, you will receive a letter notifying you of the date and time of your appointment.

Q18. When will I find out the results of my tests?

If tests are performed during or after your operation, your consultant will tell you the results of these at your post operative clinic appointment.

Q19. When can I use air transport again?

For long haul flights, we recommend waiting until 12 weeks after surgery. For a period of four weeks either before or after your operation, you are at greater risk of developing a clot if you have poor mobility, become dehydrated or sit still for more than three hours at a time. This includes lying in bed, sitting in a chair, car, bus, train, coach or plane.

Q20. Will I set off metal detector alarms?

Most probably, this depends on the size and sensitivity of the scanning equipment.
You will need to explain about your operation to staff at the airport.