Discharge Instructions

Joint Replacement Patient Education

Activity and Exercise:

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise.

We encourage you to take a short walk within your home every hour while you are awake during the day. This will help prevent your joint from becoming too stiff.

In addition to walking, you will be prescribed a home exercise program to help maximize your recovery.

You should preform your home exercises twice a day or as instructed by your physical therapist.

We discourage pivoting or twisting on your total joint replacement.

Physical Therapy:

Start physical therapy right away. Your physical therapist will instruct you when you are safe to start using a cane and when you no longer are in need of an assistive device to help you walk.

Elevation:

Anytime you are sitting or lying down, your legs should be elevated.

Attempt to elevate your legs so that your feet are higher than your knees to help decrease the swelling in your lower legs.

Pillows should never be placed under the bend of the knee. To help elevate the legs, pillows should only be placed under your feet.

It is not unusual to have swelling on and off for several months following surgery.

It is important that you monitor swelling. It is expected that you will have more swelling at the end of the day.

One of the best ways to notice decrease in swelling is to monitor for a decrease in swelling from night to morning after your feet have been elevated throughout the overnight hours.

Ice:

Ice 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off, as often as you can, with a minimum of 3-4 times a day.

Protect your skin by placing a towel between your skin and the ice pack.

SCD Pumps:

The SCD pump massages your lower legs increasing the circulation of blood to help prevent blood clots.

Use the SCD pumps any time you are sitting, lying down, and at bedtime for 2 weeks.

The rental of the SCD pump from home medical equipment is $110.

Although this will be submitted into your insurance, it is often not covered by insurances and payment would be your responsibility.

The SCD pump can be brought back to Dr. Chatrath’s office with you at your 2 week follow-up appointment and the clinic will return them to home medical.

Dressing:

Keep dressing clean, dry, and intact.

Please do not remove the dressing covering your incision site.

If your incision dressing starts to fall off or you have drainage that saturates the width of the dressing, please contact Dr. Chatrath’s office at 507-537-9007, option 2 to schedule a dressing change appointment.

Follow-up Appointments:

1 week follow-up with Dr. Chatrath’s nurse for a dressing check

2 week follow-up with Dr. Chatrath’s office for an x-ray and staple removal if appropriate.

As Dr. Chatrath monitors you along your recovery, you can anticipate to also follow-up 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year following your total joint replacement.

Showering:

Follow the directions specifically given to you upon discharge from the hospital regarding showering.

Incision Care:

Do not put any ointment, creams, lotions, or powders on your surgical incision for 6 weeks.

You can expect your joint to be stiff, mildly swollen, and warm for 9 to 12 months. This will continue to improve.

Medications:

There will be a variety of medications prescribed to you when you discharge from the hospital.

One of the most important medications that will be prescribed will be the medication that helps thin the blood and helps prevent blood clots. This is typically either aspirin or Coumadin (warfarin).

The type of blood thinning medication prescribed to you will be based on your past medical history and risk factors specific to you. If you have concerns, please contact Dr. Chatrath’s office right away.

Driving:

Generally, you are able to begin driving 2-3 weeks following your total joint replacements.

Before driving, you will need to be off any prescribed narcotic medications and you will need to be cleared by Dr. Chatrath’s office.

You may travel and increase activity as comfort allows. If traveling by car, stop every 60 to 90 minutes to stretch your legs and take a short walk. If traveling by plane, take a walk every hour if possible.

Prolonged inactivity, such as sitting in the car or plane, can put you at risk for blood clots.

Infection:

Wound infections, although rare, require urgent attention. The consequences of this can be quite serious.

Please take the following precautions:

  • Recommendation: you must take antibiotics before all dental work for the first 2 years following surgery. This includes fillings, caps, extractions, teeth cleaning, etc. Your surgeon or dentist will provide you with the initial prescription for dental antibiotics.
  • Before any surgical procedure, let the surgeon know that you have had a total joint replacement. This includes a colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and urology procedures. You will need prophylactic antibiotics before and possibly after the procedure. Your surgeon will prescribe the appropriate antibiotic if needed.
  • All bacterial infections must be treated with the appropriate antibiotic. If infection is left untreated, it can spread to your new joint by way of the bloodstream.
  • See your primary care provider if you have think you have an infection not related to the joint replacement, such a bladder, sinuses, skin, etc.
  • See your dentist for dental abscesses or gum infections.
  • Seek immediate treatment from your podiatrist or primary care provider if you have an infected ingrown toenail.

When to call your Health Care Provider:

  • Fever of 101.0 or higher.
    • It is not unusual to have a low grade fever (anything less than 101.0) in the first week after surgery.
    • This is an inflammatory response as your body heals.
  • Increasing redness, increasing swelling, or fluid leaking from your incision.
  • Pain that is uncontrolled.
  • New symptoms-increased pain or decreased range of motion.
  • Any warmth around the surgical area associated with increased redness, severe pain, drainage, fever, or decreased range of motion should be reported to the office at once.
  • Symptoms of a possible blood clot:
    • Pain or excessive tenderness in your calf
    • Redness in you calf
    • Increased swelling in your calf or thigh that does NOT decrease after elevation.

Contacts:

During business hours 8:00am -4:30pm

  • Dr. Chatrath's Office: (507)-537-9007, option 3
  • Alissa Henkel, RN
    Orthopedic Nurse Navigator
    Phone: 507-537-9033

After business hours

  • Hospital: (507)-537-9250
  • ER: (507)-532-9661, option 5, then option 1
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