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You’ve Got Questions - I’ve Got Answers

Will I need to stay in the hospital?

On average most patients leave the same day or the next day after surgery.

Will I be able to walk after surgery?

We recommend you walk with a therapist right after surgery using a walker or crutches.

Will I be able to climb stairs?

If you have stairs at home we will make sure you are able to climb stairs before leaving the hospital. Stairs can be slow and tiring, but this soon improves. We recommend that patient stay on the first floor of their home after returning from surgery.

Will I be able to drive?

Most people are able to return to driving once they stop taking narcotic pain medications.

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep after Hip or Knee Replacement Surgery

One of the most common complaints after total joint replacement is difficulty sleeping. The most common cause of sleep disruption is pain. It has been reported that more than half of patients wake up with pain after joint replacement.

Many factors can affect the quality of sleep after a major surgery including anesthesia-type, narcotic use and discomfort due to pain or restricted leg movements. As sleep is crucial to the recovery process, it is important to follow appropriate pain management protocols. Contemporary pain management protocols inhibit pain in more than one way. Many protocols use a variety of injections and nerve blocks for localized pain, as well as narcotics and anti-inflammatory medication for several weeks after surgery. You should carefully follow your pain management plan as outlined by your health care team to ensure an adequate recovery.

Usually around the second or third week after surgery, you will start to feel better and increase your activity levels while at the same time decrease your use of pain medication. This often coincides with having a difficult time sleeping. When this occurs, you should take your pain medication an hour before bed to achieve better comfort and help restore your sleep cycle. A few days off from strenuous activity or physical therapy will not inhibit your recovery, but can have a tremendous effect on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Overall, sleep deprivation after total joint replacement is manageable through pain management, the occasional use of sleeping pills, and activity modification. If you find these don’t work, call your surgeon who can help you manage sleep disturbances as you continue to recover after surgery.

This article has been written and peer reviewed by the AAHKS Patient and Public Relations Committee and the AAHKS Evidence Based Medicine

Will my artificial joint set off airport security metal detectors?

Belt buckles, key chains and smartphones may set off sensitive metal detectors at airport security checkpoints. Many commonly used orthopaedic implants may also set off the metal detectors. Over 90% of implanted total hip and knee arthroplasty devices will set off airport metal detectors. Many implants now include ceramic and plastic materials in addition to metal, and the metal will still likely cause an alarm.

A card from your physician is no longer needed for identification of these type of implants.

If you or a family member has a metal implant, he or she should inform a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer before screening begins. Passengers can use the TSA’s Notification Card to communicate discreetly with security officers; however, showing this card or other medical documentation will not exempt a passenger from additional screening.

Many patients now prefer to be screened by imaging technology (X-ray machine) to reduce the likelihood of a pat-down being necessary. If a pat-down is selected by the TSA, it will be helpful to wear clothes that allow you to easily reveal your surgical scar.

This article has been written and peer reviewed by the AAHKS Patient and Public Relations Committee and the AAHKS Evidence Based Medicine Committee. 

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