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Joint Surgery FAQ at Somerset Campus

How long will I need to use my walker?
Depending on your post-op progress, you should be able to graduate from a walker to a cane in 2-4 weeks and to independent walking within 4-8 weeks.

How long will my surgical site be warm and swollen?
It is normal for the area to be warm, bruised and swollen after surgery. This will progressively improve in the coming weeks. Some fullness may be noted for up to 6 months.

Why is it numb around my incision site?
It is normal to have some numbness due to the disruption of skin nerves along the incision. Most sensation should return within 4-6 months after surgery.

How do I manage the surgical swelling and heat at home?
Rest, Ice and Elevation will help reduce the leg swelling. Do not sit for prolonged periods with your legs down. Your MS might add a compression hose if needed.

How long will I need to be on pain medication?
Most people are able to switch from narcotics to over-the-counter pain relievers 3-6 weeks after surgery.

Will I have trouble sleeping after surgery?
To help return to your "normal" sleeping, make sure to stay active during the day, avoid long naps, and take your pain medicine as needed to sleep.

How long will I be on a blood thinner?
Depending on your medical history, you may be on a blood thinner for 3-6 weeks after surgery.

Do I need antibiotics before dental work or invasive medical procedures, such as a colonoscopy?
You should inform your dentist or doctor about your joint replacement prior to a procedure. They will determine if preventive antibiotic therapy is needed.

What can I do to prevent a blood clot?
Take the prescribed blood thinning medication, wear compression hose, perform ankle pumps, and walk hourly during the day.

What are the signs and symptoms of a blood clot?
Signs and symptoms of a blood clot include: tenderness in the calf, pain and swelling in the leg not relieved by elevation and rest, redness in the leg, increased warmth in the leg.

What are the signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism?
Signs and symptoms of a pulmonary embolism include: unexplained shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain and coughing, rapid heart rate. Pulmonary embolism is a medical emergency and if suspected, call 911.

What are the signs and symptoms of an infection?
Signs that should be reported to your surgeon include increased drainage, fever, pain, redness, and heat around the incision.

Will there be changes in my mood after surgery?
Pain, limited mobility, medication side effects, and reliance on others can lead to feelings of depression after surgery. With time, this should improve. Consult your surgeon if symptoms persist.

When will my staples be removed?
Staples are usually removed 10-16 days after surgery. Sometimes, there may be dissolvable sutures that do not need to be removed.

How long will my new joint last? What can I do to maximize the implant life?
Most implants last many years; however, some may wear out and loosen over time. To minimize risk, keep your weight in normal range, muscles strong and flexible, and avoid high impact activities. Always keep your doctor's appointments.

How do I minimize the chance of dislocating my hip?
Follow your hip precautions: no bending at the waist past 90 degrees, do not cross your legs, do not twist on your operative hip.

Will I be able to resume my activities after surgery without hurting my new joint?
You can resume low impact activities such as walking, swimming, and golfing after you heal. Consult with your surgeon or therapist if you have questions about specific sports.

When can I travel?
You can travel when you feel comfortable. Remember to stretch and walk at least once an hour and do your ankle pumps while sitting to avoid blood clots.

Can I kneel on my operated knee?
You should wait 10-12 weeks prior to kneeling on your knee. This may be uncomfortable at first; be sure to use the protection of a knee pad. Do not kneel directly on your knee cap.

When will I be able to drive my car?
Most patients can drive by 4-6 weeks, but it will depend on which leg is affected and how well you are functioning. You should not drive while taking pain medicine. Consult with your surgeon or therapist.

Why does my knee click when I walk?
The mechanical components may click as you walk. Over time, as the knee heals, this will be less noticeable.

Patient Stories

  • At RWJBarnabas Health, we understand that solutions for orthopedic pain don’t always start with surgery. That’s why our orthopedic centers offer a full range of care.

    Cheryl
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  • RWJ Somerset Joint Surgery “I am so thankful to everyone. I will be forever grateful.”

    Linda
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  • I researched outcomes and rankings on healthgrades.com,” says Brown, who helps run a free health clinic for professional actors and entertainers. “Somerset Medical Center’s joint surgery scores were terrific.

    Grace
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