What to Expect After Joint Replacement

Thanks to advances in medicine, recovery from a joint replacement surgery is faster and smoother than it was even a decade ago. While every surgery is different and every patient is different; there are some general things you can expect after joint replacement surgery:


Your nurse and therapy team will provide you and your family with education that is important in order to ensure your recovery is as smooth as possible. Depending on which joint replacement you are undergoing and which surgeon you have chosen, you will be provided with detailed education on precautions and activity restrictions that you will need to follow until your surgeon releases you.


After joint replacement, therapy will begin the day of surgery or the following day, depending on your surgeon’s orders. Your active participation in therapy is imperative to a smooth and successful recovery. You will regain full strength and range of motion of your new joint if you work hard and follow the guidance given by your surgeon, nurse and therapist. Therapy will consist of passive and active range of motion exercises, walking and education on how to perform activities of daily living as independently as possible.


Prior to leaving the hospital, depending on your personal needs, a plan will be put in place for what services and equipment you might need when you get home. Once you are home, you will continue your therapy – either with home health services or in an outpatient clinic. This will be based upon your type of joint replacement, your individual needs, your surgeon’s protocol and your therapist recommendations. You also will be provided with contact information for our orthopedic clinical liaison for any questions or concerns you may have once you are at home.

Before you know it – if you follow the guidance and education provided – you will be back to living a full and active life that you’d hoped for!

The following is a breakdown of the top joint replacement surgeries performed at Lubbock Heart and Surgical Hospital:


Advancements in medicine allow procedures such as joint replacement surgeries to focus more than ever on getting patients healed and back to an independent lifestyle. Often, patients report a stronger and healthier life than when they entered for the procedure. The key is for patients to follow their surgeon’s directives and to always follow-up with physical therapy (also directed through their surgeon).

If hip replacement is in your future, here’s what you can expect. Keep in mind – every patient is different – depending on his or her specific situation. The following serves as a general overview:


  • Makes an incision over the front or side of your hip, through the layers of tissue
  • Removes diseased and damaged bone and cartilage, leaving healthy bone intact
  • Implants the prosthetic socket into your pelvic bone, to replace the damaged socket
  • Replaces the round top of your femur with a prosthetic ball, which is attached to a stem that fits into your thighbone
  • After surgery, you'll be moved to a recovery area for a few hours while your anesthesia wears off. Hospital nursing will monitor your blood pressure, pulse, alertness, pain or comfort level, and your need for medications.
  • After your surgery, you'll be monitored very closely. Some of the things you can expect include:
    • Early mobilization. You'll be encouraged to sit up and even try walking with crutches or a walker soon after surgery. This will likely happen the same day as your surgery or on the following day.
    • Pressure application. Both during and after surgery, you may wear elastic compression stockings or inflatable air sleeves similar to a blood pressure cuff on your lower legs. The pressure exerted by the inflated sleeves helps keep blood from pooling in the leg veins, reducing the chance of any potential blood clot formation.
    • Blood-thinning medication. Your surgeon may prescribe an injected or oral blood thinner after surgery. Depending on how soon you walk, how active you are and your overall risk of blood clots, you may need blood thinners for several more weeks after surgery.


A physical therapist will help you with some exercises that you can do in the hospital and at home to speed recovery.

Activity and exercise must be a regular part of your day to regain the use of your joint and muscles. Your physical therapist will recommend strengthening and mobility exercises and will help you learn how to use a walking aid, such as a walker, a cane or crutches. As therapy progresses, you'll gradually increase the weight you put on your leg until you're able to walk without assistance.

Before you leave the hospital, you and your caregivers will get tips on caring for your new hip. For a smooth transition:

  • Arrange to have a friend or relative prepare some meals for you
  • Place everyday items at waist level, so you can avoid having to bend down or reach up
  • Consider making some modifications to your home, such as getting a raised toilet seat
  • Rest assured a plan will be put in place for care needed at home – either home health or outpatient physical therapy

About six to eight weeks after surgery, you'll have a follow-up appointment with your surgeon to make sure your hip is healing properly. If recovery is progressing well, most people resume their normal activities by this time — even if in a limited fashion. Further recovery with improving strength will often occur for six to 12 months.

What To Expect During And After Knee Surgery:

Knee replacement surgery may seem intimidating, but fear not! In today’s medicine, you’ll be up and walking soon – and feeling better than ever; provided you follow your surgeon’s directives. Here’s an overview of what you can expect following knee replacement:

After surgery, you will be wheeled to a recovery room for one to two hours. You'll then be moved to your hospital room, where you typically stay for a couple of days. You might feel pain, but medications prescribed by your doctor will help control it.

During your hospital stay, you might need to receive blood thinners and wear support hose or compression devices to further protect against swelling and clotting.

The day after surgery, therapy will begin with your new knee. During the first few weeks after surgery, a good recovery is most likely if you follow all of your surgeon's instructions concerning wound care, diet and exercise. Your therapy program – while still at the hospital – will include:

  • A graduated walking program to increase your mobility
  • Knee-strengthening exercises and providing tools for you to continue home exercises
  • Stair training

While full recovery varies from each individual; by following all of your doctor’s rules and therapy guidelines, you’ll be feeling strong and walking tall before you know it!

what to expect during and after ankle surgery:

On the day of surgery, you will be taken to pre-op, where you will change into a surgical gown. The staff, including doctors and nurses, will review your information with you. In addition to general anesthesia, many patients also receive an ankle block, which numbs the patient from the ankle down and helps reduce post-operative pain in the hours that follow surgery.

The procedure involves making a vertical incision at the front of the ankle and making precise cuts within the bones so the prosthesis will fit properly. Generally, the surgery is complete in two to two-and-a-half hours.

After surgery, your leg will be in a splint similar to a half-cast and your stitched incision will be covered in a dressing. You will be encouraged to get up and move around as soon as you feel able, although you will not be allowed to put any weight on your healing foot for approximately six weeks. Depending on how you feel, you will use crutches or a walker device – similar to a scooter, although some patients may require a wheelchair, particularly if they have other health problems or are overweight.

Two weeks after surgery, you will return to the doctor.  Your stitches will be removed and X-rays will be taken to ensure that proper healing is taking place. If everything is proceeding normally, the splint is removed and replaced by a cast that will stay on from four to six weeks. During those four to six weeks, you are still unable to put any weight on your foot. You will return to the doctor again after this time, and the cast will be replaced by a removable boot, sometimes referred to as an aircast or pneumatic boot. Your doctor will discuss physical therapy with you. In order to regain strength and range of motion, most people are prescribed physical therapy three times a week. Some patients require a month of therapy while others continue for several months. Age, the extent of your surgery, your general health and the amount of inflammation you have after surgery all play a role in the length of time it requires you to recover.

Like all joint replacement procedures – rehabilitation is key after surgery. Be sure to follow-through, so that you can be back to stepping through life without pain as soon as possible.

What to Expect During and After Shoulder Surgery:

In shoulder replacement surgery, doctors replace the ends of the damaged upper arm bone (humerus) and usually the shoulder socket, which is part of the shoulder blade (scapula).

Surgeons usually replace the top of the upper arm bone with a long metal piece, inserted into the upper arm bone that has a rounded head. If the cup-shaped surface of your shoulder bone that cradles your upper arm bone is also damaged, doctors smooth it and then cap it with a plastic or metal and plastic piece.

When you wake up from surgery, you may have a compression sleeve on your arm. This sleeve squeezes your arm to keep the blood circulating and to help prevent blood clots.

A physical therapist will begin gentle exercises of your shoulder on the day of surgery or the day after. These exercises are just passive motion, which means you relax and let the therapist move your arm for you.

Most people who have shoulder replacement surgery are able to sit up and get out of bed with some help later on the day of surgery. A physical therapist will move your arm for you to keep your shoulder loose as it heals. Your therapist will also begin some simple exercises to keep the muscles of your other arm and your legs strong.

Rehabilitation after a shoulder replacement starts right away. It is not too demanding early on, but it is very important that you do it. You will have an exercise program to follow when you go home, generally including prescribed physical therapy. Staying on your exercise program will help speed your recovery.

Joint replacement surgery has made leaps and bounds in recent years – thus allowing patients to make leaps and bounds in their recovery process. The key for all patients is to remember that rehab is the final part of the healing process. Surgeons correct the problem – make sure you keep your new joint active!

Craig Bean


Never have I had more caring and compassionate people take care of me and my family than during my experience at Lubbock Heart & Surgical Hospital. It was so obvious doctors, nurses and staff weren’t nice because it was their job. It was because they TRULY cared. Even a janitor stopped to wish me well as I was headed in for my procedure. Surgery – especially open heart – is a scary thing. Yet I was surrounded by guardian angels. After my tremendous experience in 2014 with open heart surgery; it was easy to choose Lubbock Heart & Surgical again for shoulder surgery; and again – my care was comparable to staying in a 5-Star Hotel. Everyone is dedicated and supportive to what they say and do. I feel better now than I have in years, thanks to the care I received at Lubbock Heart & Surgical Hospital.