Recovery at Home After Joint Replacement | Torrance Memorial

Recovery at Home After Joint Replacement

Everything we do at the Torrance Memorial Orthopedic program is aimed at one simple goal: We are here to help our patients return to their normal lives as quickly and safely as possible. We want to get you back to feeling great!

Planning For Your Discharge

Our discharge planning process is designed to make your return home safe and comfortable. A case management team will help you and your family to make arrangements for all of your discharge needs. It is important to realize that you will need to make some changes and adjustments to your normal routine to ensure the fastest recovery possible. It is important to follow the instructions carefully and completely.

Going Home After Surgery

You can expect your healing and recovery to take six to eight weeks following your discharge from the hospital. During this period of time you should plan to balance periods of rest with periods of activity. Do not try to push yourself to progress to the point of pain or exhaustion.

You will be provided with printed discharge instructions giving detailed information on the activities you should and should not engage in and the medications you need to take. Please be sure that you understand these instructions completely before you leave - if there is anything that seems unclear, please ask for an explanation from a member of your care team before you leave.

You will be given an appointment for a follow-up visit with your doctor to have your incision checked and your surgical staples removed. This is an important visit and should not be delayed or missed.

Preparing To Leave The Hospital

Here are some questions to consider and discuss with family members prior to your surgery that will be helpful in making your recovery easy and comfortable.

How Will You Get Home?

Driving: You will not be able to drive home after your surgery and may not be able to drive for as long as six weeks afterward. Your surgeon will advise you about when you can expect to be able to safely drive again. Please make a plan to have someone drive you home after you are discharged.

Transportation Services: Transportation Services are available in the area. Download this PDF for a list recommendations here

Will You Need Help at Home?

Home Care Agencies: For a list of non-medical, private-duty, home health care agencies that provide care services of high quality to help you during your recovery period, contact HealthLinks at 310-517-4711.

Home Preparation: Although the goal of your total joint surgery is for you to be able to function independently in your home and in your activities of daily living, you should expect that it will take several months for you to achieve this goal after your surgery.

You'll need to make some changes to the way you live in your home during the first few months after total hip, knee or shoulder replacement surgery. Your mobility will be limited and your home should be safe, easy to live in and comfortable during this time.

Consider what changes you need to make to your home before the surgery that will help make your needs easier to meet as well as decrease your risk for falls. Store items (food, plates, glasses, etc.) at waist level so you don't have to reach up into high cabinets or stoop down low. It may be helpful to prepare and freeze meals prior to admission to the hospital. Make arrangements to stay on the main floor of your home.

What Should You Do To Prevent Falls at Home?

  • Remove clutter including electrical and telephone cords from walkways
  • Arrange furniture so there is enough space to accommodate a walker
  • Remove throw rugs or tack down loose carpeting
  • Make sure that stairs and hallways are brightly lit; use a night light
  • Consider a life line/medical alert if you live alone

Will You Need Safety Equipment?

Your case manager can help you decide where to rent or purchase any necessary equipment. Medicare may cover some equipment items. Equipment that requires installation should be obtained prior to your hospital stay so your home can be prepared for your return.

Here are some additional safety measures that should be taken:

  • Install handrails on both sides of the stairs
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom
  • Install skid resistant strips in your shower, or use a shower chair

Medical Equipment Stores & Installation

For a list of recommendations for a medical equipment store and installation services you can download a PDF here

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I drive again?

It is very important to wait until you have received clearance to drive from your surgeon. Never drive while taking pain medication.

When can I shower?

Your surgeon will give you advice on how long you need to wait before you can safely shower without putting your incision at risk for infection. You may need to have a waterproof dressing applied before discharge.

When will I be fully recovered?

Every individual's recovery process is different but most patients have fully recovered after a period of three to six months.

How long will I have pain?

Different patients experience different levels of post-operative pain but it is safe to say that your "bad" hip, knee or shoulder hurt more than will your recovery from surgery.

What are the major risks from surgery?

All surgery carries some risk but most patients do not experience complications. Two potentially serious complications are infection and blood clots. We monitor patients closely and have you take certain precautions, which help prevent these complications from occurring. Learning how to prevent these complications on your own is an important reason why you should take the pre-surgery information sessions very seriously.

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