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After Your Hospital Stay

Upon leaving the hospital, there are several things you need to be aware of and keep an eye on in order to monitor any changes in your condition so that they can be addressed quickly. The first thing you will need to do is schedule an appointment with your surgeon after leaving the hospital.

Normal Occurrences

With surgery, you will have several changes that occur to your body. After surgery, you may experience some bruising on your legs, muscle soreness and/or difficulty sleeping at night. For a few days, some patients have a metallic taste in their mouths, and therefore have a decreased appetite because foods do not taste the same. You should drink plenty of fluids to remain hydrated. You may have to take stool softeners or laxatives if you experience constipation. You may have decreased energy and should take rest breaks during the day.

Pain Management

You will want to take your pain medicine as scheduled. Try to plan your pain medication so that you take it 30 minutes prior to your physical therapy appointment.

Blood Clots

After surgery, you may be taking a blood-thinning medication to help decrease your risk for blood clots. You may have blood work done once or twice a week to determine if you are taking an appropriate amount of medication.

Signs of a blood clot may include:

  • Increased swelling in the leg that does not decrease with elevation
  • Tenderness and pain in your calf

Pulmonary Embolus

A pulmonary embolus occurs when a blood clot dislodges and travels through your veins and into your lungs. This is a medical emergency. You can help decrease your risk of developing a pulmonary embolus by checking for signs of blood clots and receiving medical attention if you think you have one.

You should call 911 immediately if you have any of the signs below:

  • Sudden pain in your chest
  • Breathing that becomes rapid/difficult
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Increased sweating

Incision Care

Your surgeon will give you instructions on the care of your incision and when you can shower. Do not take tub baths.

Infection Prevention

If you need to have dental or other medical care, tell your dentist/doctor about your joint replacement before your appointment and ask if you need antibiotics before your procedure. You need to follow this precaution for two years after your surgery date.

Notify your surgeon if you notice any of the following:

  • Any signs of infection, such as:
    • Swelling, warmth or redness around your incision site becomes worse
    • Changes in drainage, such as color, amount and odor
    • Increase in pain
    • Fever greater than 100.5 degrees F
  • Any signs of a blood clot or pulmonary embolus
  • Any extreme chills
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Side effects of blood thinner medications, such as:
    • Bloody stools
    • Increased stomach pain
    • Chest pain
    • Severe headaches
    • Abnormal bruising
    • Uncontrolled bleeding
    • Rapid breathing
    • Shortness of breath