a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Advice for Joint Replacement Surgery (Knee or Hip)

Monday, March 09, 2020

Advice for Joint Replacement Surgery (Knee or Hip)

SUMMARY: Now I've done both. Some of my tips.
(Someone asked on Facebook, March 9)

Learned a bunch from my total hip replacement (THR) aftermath a year ago, and was able to put it into play before my total knee replacement (TKR) this year--and learned more from that, too. So, off the top of my head, herewith a bunch of tips.

Note: If you're living with someone, like a spouse or good friend as a roommate, etc., who's already familiar with the household and will be the one staying with you 24/7 for the first couple of weeks, some things don't apply. But I had to recruit friends & relatives to each stay for a few days/nights, so my list got pretty long.

  • The result feels great! So much better than the previous status.  Both for hip and knee! Such a relief! The down time is worth it.
  • Your recovery time may vary. Apparently I did pretty good both times, but also I might be younger and more active than many patients. And I've worked hard (well, struggled) to keep my weight down because of the effect that any extra pounds puts on my joints and back.  Another woman I know who also just had a new knee but is nearly 20 years older says, fuggid, exercises are too miserable, I'm just going to use a walker for the rest of my life. Makes me sad. 
  • You won't be driving for probably 4-6 weeks.
  • You won't be going up and down stairs for 2-3 weeks (except maybe a very few steps).
  • Try to have your room, or wherever you expect to be spending the most time, ready ahead of time: fresh linen on the bed, fresh towels in the bathroom, floor vacuumed, everything cleaned up & put away so you don't have to stare at unfinished tasks, piles of laundry, etc., while you're trying to relax and recover.
  • Set up a bedside table with room to put things that you might not normally put there: water to drink, miscellaneous supplies, list of exercises and pointers from  the hospital or physical therapist, etc.
  • Set up bedroom: And because for the first 2 weeks I'd be stuck upstairs (no TV, no popping into the kitchen, etc.) I also tried to make sure I had things in the bedroom for me to do (books, crosswords, paperwork to work on although that fell by the wayside). And I set up a chair and tray table so that I could sit up periodically, and have meals brought up to me there.
    AND an extra chair so my assistant and I could chat together when I was up to it and felt like sitting up.
  • I put the dogs in boarding so that when I got home from surgery, and for the first couple of days and nights, neither I nor anyone else had to worry about whether the dogs were causing me any problems. Mine sleep on my bed often, although I had been crating them at night for a couple of weeks before surgery, and ever since. But I don’t have anyone living with me; it was friends and relatives who are staying overnight, and I didn’t want them to have to bother with the dogs. BUT I had to arrange to have them brought home. Luckily the boarding places were willing to do so for an extra charge. 
  • Get a walker for each level of your house; you'll need it for probably the first 4 weeks. Some insurance covers a walker. BUT I asked on facebook and got offers from 5 or 6 friends for a free walker that they had stashed away.
  • Be prepared to carry things while using the walker: My cousin found nifty bags with pockets online that attach to the front of the walker; very handy. And a cup holder that attaches to one of the legs of the walker. Also used that a lot. Also handy to have: a bag with handles that will slip over your shoulder and preferably even across your neck (So that the bag hangs on the opposite side from your neck). And/or clothing with pockets.
  • Use leggings or long underpants: I don't usually wear PJs to bed. When I'm dressed, I usually wear jeans. For this, you'll want something that's gentler than jeans (leg will swell up, repeatedly; also, incision will have dressing or tape on it for a while). Can also just wear back to bed OR around the house with a nice top to greet people. AND can easily ice your knee through it.
  • And do the exercises! And do what the physical therapist tells you to do! 
  • And ask all the questions that you have; some people are hesitant to do that. I found that having a notepad and a pen at hand helped me to remember the questions; I also used a list on my phone for when I wasn’t near my pad. Because questions popped up all the time. And don't be afraid to call the designated number if you have questions that you feel can't wait for your next scheduled visit or appointment! It's your health and comfort!
  • Install raised toilet seat: If the bathroom that you'll mainly be using doesn't already have one, get one and install it beforehand! My friend had to do this for me *after* my surgery because I waffled for too long, and she  ended up making about 5 trips to 3 different places, and working very hard indeed to remove the existing seat,  put the riser in place, and put the seat back on--  because not every part is compatible with every other part! What a challenge! And that raised toilet seat has been SO WONDERFUL TO HAVE after the surgery--and wish actually I had installed it at least a couple of months before my hip surgery, because I had been in so much pain sitting and standing up.
  • Shop beforehand and get lots of cash. Because no one lives with me, and relatives & friends would be cycling through, I stocked up on groceries to hopefully last 2-4 weeks so no one would have to go shopping for me. I also took out $300 in cash and left it in the kitchen so if anyone did have to buy anything for me (ran out of milk, picked up a prescription, something broke & had to be replaced, etc.), they could just take the $ with them.
  • Icing the knee regularly & ice machine: I already had 4 good largish blue-ice packs (the soft ones) in the freezer. I have used them more and more over the last 6 weeks instead of the ice machine, because at least I can still move around. If they give you an ice machine, that's so excellent! And I didn't really *want* to move around much the first couple of weeks. Freeze 6-8 smaller water bottles and use them in water in the machine instead of trying to keep pouring out ice water and replacing with fresh ice.  And you can always use the ice in the ice machine--but trying to keep a good supply of ice in the house is tough. The first day, my sister bought a couple of large bags and we put it into a cooler, but it had melted within 2 days, long befoer we could use it. If they DON'T send you home with an ice machine, find out where you can rent or borrow one (last time I had work on my knee, a friend loaned me hers).
  • Make ice: But I also like my drinks cold, so I made as much ice as my ice keeper could hold ahead of time, so I could have ice water by my bed (I have an insulated large cup with a lid and a straw) all the time, and I drank a lot! 
MORE TO COME  I think...  will make a note here if/when I add.

April 26, 2021:  And, here is more!   How Much Help Will I Need After My Joint Replacement Surgery?


  1. Good advice, the best being to plan ahead and make it easier for you and your caretakers.

    1. So true. I learned a lot the first time, more the 2nd time... by the time all of my joints are replaced, I'll finally have it down pat!

    2. Do you anticipate more??

    3. Yeah; the arthritis hasn't been selective. :-/