Frequently Asked Questions About Hip and Knee Replacements

These Frequently Asked Questions are a general guide to help you prepare for your hip or knee replacement. There are many different types of procedures performed at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital New Brunswick and your surgeon may have specific preferences for you after surgery. Always check with your surgeon if you are unsure about how any of these questions apply to you.

How long does surgery last?

Hip or knee replacement can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes depending on your surgeon.

What are the implants made of?

Usually they consist of a metal and medical-grade plastic called polyethylene. For specifics please ask your surgeon.

How long will I be in the hospital?

The average length of stay is one night. Most people are able to go home safely the next day after surgery.

Can I go directly home after surgery?

Patients are discharged to home with the assistance of a visiting nurse from the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA), who will provide nursing care and therapy in the home for the first two weeks after surgery.

Can I climb stairs after surgery? If so, when?

A physical therapist will work with you on stair climbing before you leave the hospital. They will teach you the proper way to climb stairs and make sure you are comfortable doing so.

At home, as long as you feel safe, it is recommended to only do stairs twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening). After one week, this can gradually be increased.

When can I drive?

Time differs and depends on the side of the replacement and the surgical approach. It can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks or possibly longer before you are able to drive. Please arrange in advance for transportation during this time. You must be off of any narcotics or opioids.

When can I engage in sexual activities?

Generally, gradually resume sexual activity when you are comfortable and please speak to your surgeon with any concerns.

Will my new joint set off security alarms at check points?

It may be detected but most staff is familiar with joint replacement. Inform the security staff you have a metal implant and they can direct you.

How long will my joint last?

It varies from patient to patient but there is a 90 percent survival rate, 10 years after surgery.

When can I shower?

Most of our surgeons use a waterproof dressing that you can shower with, but please follow your specific discharge instructions given to you by your discharge nurse.

What can I do after surgery?

Occupational therapists will work with you in the hospital before going home. They will review things you do every day such as getting dressed, putting your shoes on and showering. If you need them, the occupational therapists will also train you to use assistive devices such as the sock aide, reacher and shoe horn and give you these devices if you need them to be successful at home.

When can I return to work?

It can vary depending on your procedure, procedural approach, and surgeon, but on average:

  • Hip replacement: It can be anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks
  • Knee replacement: It can be anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks

For more information on all of these questions, please refer to the guidebook provided to you by the hospital.