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Quesions to ask the surgeon on your first post-op visit

Josephine

NURSE DIRECTOR
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Many of our members have questions after they get home from the hospital about what they can do and when they can do it. The answers may be different from one surgeon to another, but here is a list of questions to get you started on what needs clarification when you have your first post-op visit with your surgeon.

Every surgeon has his own protocols for his own reasons. These are questions that people often bring up on the forum, and we typically respond with whatever our own surgeon told us. That answer may or may not be right for everyone; always get your own surgeon's point-of-view first. Even if your surgeon is just being super-cautious and covering his tracks in case of problems down the road, you should know what your surgeon thinks and why he thinks it before you decide whether it is the best answer for you.

We've also noticed that protocols can be very different based on the country where surgery takes place. Whenever in doubt, follow YOUR surgeon's advice in combination with your own common sense. As an example, physical therapy is widely recommended after a THR by surgeons in the US, and is infrequently recommended in the UK. The truth is: there are times when PT is very useful and necessary, and there are times when it is useful but unnecessary, and there are times when it can cause more harm than good. The decision to pursue PT usually starts with your surgeon, but if you have concerns either way, be sure to bring them up.

This list is a starting place. It was developed primarily for hip replacement patients, but many of the questions would be similar for knee replacements as well. Tailor the list to address your specific concerns.

RESTRICTIONS
Do I have to follow the 90 degree rule any longer? (for THRs only)
Can I bend over to tie my shoes? (for THRs only)
Can I cross my legs?
Can I sit on the floor cross-legged if it doesn't hurt?
Can I take a bath?
Do I have any restrictions about lifting objects? Can I pick up my baby...toddler?
Are there any restrictions that are permanent, and if so....why?


PAIN MEDICATION
What pain medication should I use from this point onwards?
When should I cease taking medication altogether?
Are there any special precautions in weaning off the particular pain medications I am on?
What are my options for pain medication if I need them for longer than just a few weeks?

EXERCISE AND SPORT
Am I allowed to ___ now if it is pain free? (jog, run, dance, ski, etc.)
When can I return to the gym?
What exercises or equipment should I avoid at the gym? For how long?
When can I play ____ again? (golf, tennis, football, soccer, etc.)
Am I allowed to do squatting exercises?

Do you think I would benefit from further PT?
Is there anything I should add to my daily or weekly routine that would benefit?
When can I start hydrotherapy?

LIFESTYLE
Given no pain medication when can I drink alcohol again?
Do you have any recommendations on air travel?
Can I return to full-time/part-time work? If so, when?
Am I now allowed to drive a motor vehicle?
Am I free to engage in sexual activity?
When can I resume taking vitamins and/or supplements?

MEDICAL FOLLOW-UP
Are my stitches completely gone? Healed?
Do I have to take antibiotics before any procedures like dental work? For how long? (Answers will likely vary from two years to forever. This is another subject with wide variance. See this article in the library peri-prosthetic infection - also known as late onset infection and use your own judgement.)
What signs or symptoms should worry me if they occur?
Do I have any reason to be concerned about my other joints?
I still have swelling? Is that a concern? What should I do about it?
There are big indentations around my incision. Is this normal? What does it mean?
I still have pain in/around/by ____ (fill in the blank). Is this normal? What should I do about it?
When should I return for my next follow-up?
 

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