Your doctor will give you specific postoperative instructions depending on your type of surgery. Here are some of the basic general instructions you need to follow after any surgery:
- Take pain-relieving and other medications as advised. Pain-relieving medication should be taken with food. After the first 48 hours of surgery, take the pain medication only when needed.
- Do not drink alcohol, drive a vehicle, operate any machinery, or sign a legal document for the first 24 hours after the surgery as the effects of the sedative and/or the anesthesia administered during the surgery may last for the first 24 hours of the surgery.
- Use ice packs to control swelling. However, make sure that the ice bag does not leak into the dressing. Ice packs can be used liberally for the first 48 hours and even later if required.
- Follow the specific restriction of activity, as advised. Remember that it is easier to prevent developing pain rather than managing it once it has already developed. Rest a lot after surgery. For hip replacements, short 5-10 minute activity episodes followed by 30 minutes of rest is a good idea. For knee replacements, keep the operated extremity elevated above the level of your heart, to control swelling at all times except for food, fire, bathroom trips, and therapy.
- You may shower and get your wound wet after surgery, but do not soak in a tub.
- Try to begin physical therapy a few days after the surgery for a total knee and about two weeks after a total hip. Exercises in the first week are usually aimed at regaining joint motion. Strengthening exercises are initiated later. Regular exercises are critical for a successful outcome.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks.
- Schedule your follow-up appointment with your doctor as advised.
Please consult your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Increased drainage from the incision
- Increased redness around the operated area
- Increased swelling that does not decrease with ice and elevation
- Foul odor
- Fever greater than 101°F
- Coldness, numbness, or blanched white or bluish color of the fingers or toes
- Sudden calf pain or shortness of breath
- Chest pain