Preparing for your first knee replacement surgery in the hospital can be daunting if you are not sure what to expect.
Once a surgery has been scheduled by your orthopedic surgeon and the hospital you will attend has been agreed upon be sure to find out if they conduct a pre-operative class for joint replacement recipients.
These classes will give you some more in depth insight as to how your surgery and follow-up will be conducted during your hospital stay. The old saying " preparation breeds confidence" holds true no matter what the task at hand is.
Generally you are admitted the morning of your scheduled surgery. After some final paperwork is completed and final verification is carried out you are then taken to the back staging area where you will change clothes and placed on a stretcher. There you will pre-medicated for the surgery to relax you then followed by further medication before being taken into the operating room.
The surgery itself can be can be completed in 1 1/2 to 2 hours if there are no complications. In some case depending on the surgeons experience, the surgery is finished quicker. After spending time in the recovery room you will be taken back to your room to recover from the after effects of the anesthesia and monitored further.
Physical therapy is started the following morning. getting you up and out of bed is one of the main objectives. Getting up and moving has been shown over the years to result in less medical complications and, speeds up your recovery.
Your physical therapy while in the hospital will involve two sessions a day. One in the morning and, another in the afternoon. Making sure you are pre-medicated before treatment is a must. Be sure to stay in touch with your nursing staff and therapist to get the timing down with the medication.
it will take oral pain medication about 30 minutes to start doing its job.
Your exercises while in the hospital will consist of a series of isometric exercises. You will be given gentle range of motion exercises to get the knee to bend and extend. This is not the place where aggressive therapy has to be given. Your physical therapists touch and their ability to make you feel at ease with the treatment are a must.
You will be given a walker to start your ambulation or gait training with as you begin walking in your room and in the hallways. You will find out of all the exercises etc.. the walking is the easiest. You should not feel pain when you step down on the operated leg itself. Yes it will be stiff and tight but pain will not be an issue here.
Your stay should be between two and three days in an acute care hospital. Once its determined you are medically stable, you can get out of bed and move around then it will be determined between you, your surgeon and the hospital staff whether you will go directly home or continue with further therapy in a skilled nursing facility.
That decision is made according to your living arrangements, if you have someone at home that can take care of you etc...
Your surgeon will use the hospital that they either have an arrangement with or, one that they feel more comfortable with. Your overall hospital stay will really determine on the quality of its staff. Most hospitals that have a separate orthopedic wing have nurses that are trained extremely well in that area.
Other then the ICU units the orthopedic staff I have found in my career are a close second when it comes to care and observation skills.
Communicating with the medical and rehabilitation staff are vital for a smooth recovery. Make sure when you are placed either in a chair or placed back in bed you have all your communication equipment available. Your telephone and call bell will be your lifelines while there.
Preparation breeds confidence it has been said and knowing what to expect and how the department runs through a pre-operative class will take some of the mystery out of your hospital stay.