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American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons

Advocacy, Education, Research

Commonly Asked Questions about Recovering from Hip or Knee Replacement Surgery

If you are anticipating a hip replacement or a knee replacement, here are commonly asked questions about recovery following surgery answered by Stephen J. Kelly, MD.

Will I need to stay in the hospital?
On average, patients spend two nights in the hospital following surgery. Some patients may spend as little as one night, others may stay as long as three nights.

Will I be able to walk after surgery?
Most patients use a walker or crutches after surgery but often will be able to progress rapidly to using a cane.

Can I go directly home from the hospital?
Many patients are able to leave the hospital and go directly home after surgery. It is important to identify a family member or friend who will be able to help with common household tasks such as preparing meals and doing dishes. Some patients will require a stay a specialized care facility such as a nursing home or rehab hospital.

Will I be able climb stairs when I leave the hospital?
In general, patients are able to climb stairs after leaving the hospital; however, it is often initially slow and tiring. This soon improves, but most patients are happiest if initially they are able to stay on one floor after returning home from surgery.

Will I be able to drive immediately after surgery?
Most patients are not safe to drive for the first three to six weeks after surgery. Your surgeon and their team will guide you as to when it is safe to drive.

How long will I be out of work after surgery?
Most patients are out of work for at least a few weeks following surgery. Patients with very physical jobs may take as long as three months to return to work.

Will I have to take pain medication after surgery?
Many efforts are ongoing to reduce the pain patients have after surgery; however, most patients still do require some pain medications for the first few weeks after surgery.

Will I need Physical Therapy after surgery?
All patients benefit from specific exercises after surgery. These will be directed by your surgeon and often will involve a physical therapist. Most patients need to do their exercises for a minimum of four to six weeks following surgery.

How much will my joint replacement weigh?
They weigh between one and two pounds.

Are there any activities I will not be able to participate in after I recover from my joint replacement?
In general, most patients are advised to avoid running, jumping, or impact sports after surgery. It is hoped that these recommendations will make your joint replacement last longer.

» Next: Learn more about total hip replacement surgery and total knee replacement surgery.

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