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Knee

What to ask your doctor after knee replacement surgery

Definition
You had surgery to get a new hip or knee joint while you were in the hospital.
Below are some questions you may want to ask your health care provider to help you take care of your new joint.

Mobility questions

  • How long will I need to use a walker or crutches after I go home?
  • How much walking can I do?
  • When can I start to place weight on my new joint? How much?
  • Do I need to be careful about how I sit or move around?
  • What are things that I cannot do?
  • Will I be able to walk without pain? How far?
  • When will I be able to do other activities, such as golf, swimming, tennis, or hiking?
  • Can I use a cane? When?

Medication questions

  • Will I have pain medicines when I go home? How should I take them?
  • Will I need to take blood thinners when I go home? How long would it be?

Activity questions

  • What exercises can or should I do after surgery?
  • Do I need to go to physical therapy? How often and for how long?
  • When can I drive?

Environment questions

  • How can I get my home ready before I even go to the hospital?
  • How much help will I need when I come home? Will I be able to get out of bed?
  • How can I make my home safer for me?
  • How can I make my home easier to get around?
  • How can I make it easier for myself in the bathroom and shower?
  • What type of supplies will I need when I get home?
  • Do I need to rearrange my home?
  • What should I do if there are steps that go to my bedroom or bathroom?
  • Do I need a hospital bed?

Care questions

  • What are the signs that something is wrong with my new hip or knee?
  • How can I prevent problems with my new hip or knee?
  • When should I call the provider?
  • How do I take care of my surgical wound?
  • How often should I change the dressing? How do I wash the wound?
  • What should my wound look like? What wound problems do I need to watch out for?
  • When do sutures and staples come out?
  • Can I take a shower? Can I take a bath or soak in the hot tub?
  • When can I go back to see my dentist? Do I need to take any antibiotics before seeing the dentist?

References
Harkness JW, Crockarell JR. Arthroplasty of the hip. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, Canale ST, eds. Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017.

Mihalko WM. Arthroplasty of the knee. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, Canale ST, eds. Campbell’s Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017.

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Scott Ashley, MD

ORTHOPAEDIC SURGEON

Scott Ashley, MD, is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon. He specializes in sports medicine surgery, hip preservation surgery (including hip arthroscopy for treatment of hip impingement and labral tears, treatment of hip dysplasia, and other joint preserving surgeries for adolescents and adults), as well as knee and hip replacements.

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