Blake A. Nonweiler, M.D., Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon
Comprehensive Orthopedic Care.

Post-Operative Care: After Orthopedic Surgery

Paying careful attention to the needs of a prosthetic implant after joint replacement surgery is imperative to ensure the longevity of the new replacement joint. Rehabilitation must be pursued cautiously so that the patient is returned to previous levels of activity safely, allowing the joint to heal correctly. Rehabilitation and physical medicine are an important aspect of the post-operative recovery period that allows the patient to return to their previous levels of activity as soon and as safely as possible.

First Steps in Post-Operative Care for Orthopedic Implants

An appointment should be scheduled with the attending orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Nonweiler, 10 to 14 days after the date of the surgery. Upon consultation, Dr. Nonweiler will ensure the joint is healing properly, and will answer any questions or concerns the patient may have. The surgeon will remove the staples inserted during the procedure and give the patient instructions for best keeping the wound clean and dry.

Post-operative pain is common and should be expected after joint arthroplasty surgery. Pain medications will be prescribed to the patient at the time of the surgery, with a follow-up appointment scheduled to discuss the medication’s strength and effects on the particular patients body.

Physical Therapy: Post Operative Care for Orthopedic Prosthetic Implants

Physical therapy is one of the best ways to rehabilitate a newly implanted joint. The physical therapist will teach the patient exercises to help improve the strength and range of motion of the new joint. For patients with replacement knee joints, a piece of equipment called the continuous passive motion (CPM) machine helps the patient recovery safely and effectively, and is an integral part of the rehabilitation process. The CPM machine helps the patient gain full range of motion back in the replacement joint by constantly running the patient through a controlled range of motion, gradually increasing the motion over time.

At Home Care for Orthopedic Prosthetic Implants

Keeping the surgical incision dry until the staples are removed, as well as afterward, is important to prevent infection. Numbness in the incision area may occur; however, any redness, swelling, or drainage that appears after surgery may indicate infection. If a patient experiences these symptoms, Dr. Nonweiler should be notified immediately.

Swelling in the joint area is fairly normal; however, a patient should pay attention to the wound to ensure excessive swelling does not occur. At the beginning of the day, swelling should be minimal, and may gradually accumulate as the day goes on. Patients should try to place minimal stress on the orthopedic implant, and stay off of it as much as possible. Elevation of the swollen area above the heart for thirty minutes to an hour per day is advisable.

Precautions for Activities with an Orthopedic Implant

It may take some time for a patient to get back to his or her normal routine after orthopedic surgery for joint replacement. Some activities, such as driving, gardening, or other activities that heavily utilize the new joint, should be put on hold until at least six weeks after surgery. Particularly with knee prosthetics, orthopedic surgeons typically suggest minimal use of stairs for six weeks after surgery, and always to lead with the unaffected leg when ascending or descending the stairs.

Operating heavy machinery, which includes driving a car, is not advised for the first six weeks after surgery to replace a hip or knee. Oftentimes, the joint’s full range of motion and muscle strength are not fully restored until several weeks after the surgery. Driving puts an excessive amount of stress on a newly operated hip or knee joint, causing additional pain to the patient.
Taking a bath may be difficult after an orthopedic surgery. Dr. Nonweiler suggests taking a seated or standing shower after surgery, as opposed to a submerged bath, until full range of motion is restored to the joint area. To ensure the wound stays dry, patients should refrain from showering for three days after surgery.

Orthopedic Surgeon in Central Oregon

The rehabilitation that follows orthopedic surgery can be arduous, but taking the correct precautions can make the recovery process more comfortable, as well as more effective. Contact Dr. Nonweiler and his staff with any questions or concerns you may have about post-operative care for orthopedic prosthetic implants, or make an appointment for a comprehensive consultation regarding joint arthroplasty.

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