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Joint Replacement FAQs

Find answers to common questions about joint replacement procedures at Olmsted Medical Center. If you have a specific question about your care, please contact someone on your orthopedic care team.

How often will I see my orthopedic surgeon after surgery?

Your surgeon will follow your care during your hospital stay. You can expect to see your orthopedic doctor or his or her physician assistant every day while you're in the hospital recovering. Your orthopedic care team will also want to see you for follow-up appointments in the clinic after you’re discharged. The first follow-up appointment is scheduled two to four weeks after surgery.

How do I know if my incision is infected?

After surgery, you’ll notice some redness, swelling, and warmth around your incision. This is normal. If you experience painful redness, increased swelling, or thick, bad-smelling drainage from your incision, you may have an infection. A temperature over 102 degrees Fahrenheit may also indicate an infection. If you have any concerns, call your orthopedic surgeon immediately.

When can I take a shower or bath at home?

Your surgeon will usually let you shower starting the day after surgery. When you return home, you may need special equipment, like a bath mat, hand-held showerhead, or shower seat to help you bathe comfortably and safely. You should avoid soaking your incision for six weeks after your joint replacement surgery.

When will I be able to drive again?

You should not drive a car or other motor vehicle until your surgeon says it is okay to do so. You must be off pain medications before you will be approved to drive again. In most cases, patients are able to start driving again between four and six weeks after surgery.

Why must I take antibiotics for dental work or other operative procedures?

Taking antibiotics is a precaution to help make sure your new artificial joint doesn’t become infected. More surgeries or dental work increases the chance of infection. No matter where the infection starts, if it spreads to your new knee, the results could be serious. When artificial joints become infected, they may need to be removed and then replaced several weeks later. Please let your other medical providers, including your dentist, know that you have had joint replacement surgery. This is important no matter how small or easy the procedure.Taking antibiotics is a precaution to help make sure that your new artificial joint does not become infected. More surgeries or dental work increases the chance of infection. No matter where the infection starts, if it spreads to your new knee, the results could be very serious. When artificial joints become infected, they may need to be removed surgically and then replaced several weeks later. Please let your other medical providers, including your dentist, know that you have had joint replacement surgery. This is important no matter how small or easy the procedure.

Will I receive blood during my joint replacement procedure?

Most patients don’t require blood transfusions following joint replacement surgery, as your orthopedic care team utilizes multiple measures during surgery to reduce blood loss. As a precaution, patients are screened preoperatively to anticipate potential need and confirm blood type.

How long will I have to stay in the hospital after joint replacement surgery?

You’ll likely stay in the hospital for one to two days depending on your orthopedic rehabilitation protocol and how fast you progress with occupational therapy and physical therapy. This is dependent upon your health before surgery, your age, and any medical conditions that could hinder your recovery. Our primary goal is your safety and the promotion of a full recovery.

What is the role of the personal coaches?

Your coach is a person you choose to be your support person to help you prepare for and recover from your joint replacement procedure. This can be a spouse, friend, or family member who will give you support and encouragement throughout your experience.

Does OMC do outpatient replacements?

Our goal is to send patients home in a manner that promotes a safe recovery. At this time, we don’t perform outpatient joint replacements.

Where do I go when I leave the hospital?

Most patients recover from orthopedic surgery in their homes; however, there are several options to consider for your discharge from the hospital, if needed. These options may include home care services; in-home therapy, including physical therapy and occupational therapy; or skilled nursing care in a licensed facility. If you’re interested in learning more about the options available and/or have questions, please contact OMC social services at 507.529.6806.

How should I sleep at night to keep my knee or hip comfortable and safe after joint replacement surgery?

Best Sleeping Position After Knee Replacement Surgery:

Many people are curious about sleeping positions following a knee replacement. In the beginning, you’ll most likely sleep on your back and may be more comfortable with pillows under your feet and lower legs. If you want to use pillows for elevation, avoid putting pillows under the back of your knee to encourage your knee to stay bent. You should try to rest, whether sleeping or just sitting throughout the day, with your knee straight as much as possible. You’ll be able to try sleeping on your side shortly after surgery. It will help to have a pillow between your knees, as the inside of your knee may be tender when it touches your other leg. Your therapist and your doctor will help you determine when you’re ready to try sleeping on your side.

Best Sleeping Position After Hip Replacement Surgery

The best position to sleep in after hip replacement surgery is on your back as long as you keep a pillow between your legs. This will ensure you don’t twist your leg in a way that could pop the hip out of its socket. When you sleep on your back, keep your toes pointed naturally upward. Do not turn your toes or whole leg inward on the operative side. It’s best to lie directly on your back with toes pointed toward the ceiling. If you feel like you need to bend a leg, don’t bend your affected one, as this could put too much pressure on your hip.

Unless you’re told not to, you can sleep on your non-operative side as long as you line two pillows between your legs. Don’t allow the affected leg to cross the midline of your body, never turn your toes downward, and make sure you don’t throw your leg forward in front of you. Sleep with the pillow between your legs for at least six weeks.

You shouldn’t sleep on your stomach when you’re recovering from a hip replacement, as there’s a good chance you could dislocate your hip. Ask your surgeon how long you should wait before sleeping on your stomach (likely at least six weeks).

General Sleeping Precautions After Hip Replacement Surgery

To help yourself heal after hip replacement surgery, follow these general sleeping guidelines:
•    Never lean forward from lying down to adjust your covers or for any other reason.
•    When you place pillows between your legs, make sure one supports your foot. This will keep you from dangling and twisting your foot and putting pressure on your hip.
•    Never turn your toes inward no matter which way you choose to sleep.
•    Never cross your ankles when sleeping on your back.
•    Avoid lying on your affected side for at least six weeks.
•    Do not bring your knee up toward your stomach past a 90-degree angle.
•    Don’t twist your toes inward at any time.
•    Avoid turning or twisting your leg inward.
•    Don’t sleep on your stomach unless approved by your orthopedic surgeon.

Contact Us

OMC's orthopedic surgery department and joint replacement center can be reached Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (except on holidays), at:

Appointment tel: 507.292.7187

Joint Replacement Navigator: 507.529.6735 

Mailing address:

Olmsted Medical Center
Attn: Orthopedic Surgery/Joint Replacement Center
1650 Fourth Street SE 
Rochester, MN 55904

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