Recovery Timeline After Joint Replacement Surgery
Joint replacement surgery is a major surgery with a high risk of post-surgery complications. It’s important to have a strong support system, a safe and comfortable recovery area, and someone you trust to help you get to your physical therapy and medical appointments and manage your medication after surgery.
While everyone’s recovery timeline is different after surgery, you can expect to experience certain stages of recovery. Take a look at this general recovery timeline after joint replacement surgery, and consider hiring a specialist for in-home joint replacement care services.
Manage Your Post-Surgery Recovery Expectations
Before you undergo joint replacement surgery, talk to your surgeon and medical team about what to expect during and after surgery. They will give you specific aftercare instructions and professional advice on avoiding complications post-surgery.
Don’t expect to be fully recovered after a few weeks. Plan to take at least six weeks off of work and away from strenuous, taxing, or stressful activities. Many people feel fully recovered in three months, while others may require up to six months.
Your recovery time depends on your age, overall health, mobility, the extent of the surgery, how committed you are to your post-surgery recovery plan, and how much support you have during recovery. Hiring an in-home caregiver or taking advantage of assisted living joint replacement care can speed up your recovery process and protect your health and safety.
Understand the Risks and Complications of Joint Replacement Surgery
Your surgeon and medical team will help you understand the risks and complications of recovery from joint replacement surgery. It’s important for you to know the warning signs to look out for so you can seek help if you need it.
You should also know how to protect your physical and mental health after surgery so you can give yourself the best chance of a full, healthy recovery. The most common complications after joint replacement surgery are:
- Blood clots
- Heart attack
- Damage to nerves or blood vessels
- Scar tissue
- Rejection of the implant
- Mobility issues
Prepare for Joint Replacement Surgery
When you prepare for joint replacement surgery, you are likely to have a smoother surgery and accelerated post-surgery recovery. You might even lower your risk of post-surgery complications. You can prepare for surgery by:
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Exercising every day
- Building core strength
- Working with a physiotherapist or chiropractor to improve your strength, balance, and agility pre-surgery
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding alcohol
- Getting enough sleep
- Reducing stress
Immediately After Joint Replacement Surgery
As soon as you wake up from surgery, your rehabilitation plan begins. You will spend some time in the recovery room of the hospital or surgery center. A physical therapist will visit you and help you stand up and walk using crutches, a walker, or canes. They will help you get out of bed and move around.
The sooner you get up and around after surgery, the less likely you are to experience complications like blood clots or stroke. Most people attend their first physical therapy appointment within 24 hours of their surgery so they can get back to their normal routine faster.
One Week Post-Surgery
During your first week after surgery, you may attend physical therapy sessions every day. Your physical therapy and recovery plan will focus on restoring your mobility, strength, flexibility, range of motion, and balance.
Your physical therapist will guide you through mobility and strength training exercises and might instruct you on exercises you should complete at home as well.
You can expect to experience pain, swelling, bruising, trouble walking, breathlessness, fatigue, anxiety, and mood swings. You should take pain medication as instructed and rest, ice, and elevate your limb and joint as needed.
Week Three Post-Surgery
During week three, you will continue physical therapy, but your sessions may be reduced depending on your progress. You should be able to walk on your own using a cane or other assistive device.
Your physical therapist will help you use your assistive device properly so you aren’t placing added weight or pressure on your other joints. You will likely be able to walk or stand for more than 10 minutes at a time, and shower and dress by yourself. You may not need prescription pain medication any longer.
Four to Six Weeks After Surgery
As you continue your physical therapy, post-surgery exercise plan, and at-home mobility plan, you should start to notice a dramatic improvement in your physical abilities, stamina, endurance, and overall outlook. Your swelling and inflammation should be down, and your joint and limb strength should be improved. You will be able to stand for longer periods of time and go for longer walks.
Most people don’t need an assistive device any longer at this stage. You may be able to return to work at this time, but you should continue with your at-home exercise and mobility plan. You may be able to start driving again in week six, but not if you are still taking prescription pain medication.
Seven to Eleven Weeks After Surgery
You will continue with your physical therapy appointments and exercise and mobility plan. You should be rapidly improving your strength, endurance, mobility, balance, flexibility, and range of motion.
Your physical therapy plan will be modified as you progress, and you might start doing new or additional exercises. You should be able to go on longer walks and swim or ride a bicycle without major pain or discomfort.
By week twelve, you may be able to stop attending physical therapy. You should continue your home exercises, stretches, and mobility plan. You should avoid high-impact activities like running, aerobics, skiing, basketball, soccer, football, trail running, and high-intensity cycling. You should have significantly reduced pain levels and you might not need over-the-counter pain medication anymore.
Overall Outlook Post-Surgery
For most people, it can take up to three months to return to most of your activities and between six months and a year to see full recovery after joint replacement surgery. Your implant should last between 10-20 years. You will need to visit your medical team and primary care physician regularly for checkups and scans to make sure your implant is functioning correctly.
Improving Your Recovery Times
You can improve your post-surgical recovery time by working closely with your physical therapist, primary care physician, and medical team after surgery. Don’t skip physical therapy appointments, and follow the recovery plan your medical team has outlined very carefully. Try to get some physical activity every day, and maintain a healthy diet.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and taking your medication as directed. If you live alone, you should ask a friend or relative to stay with you for the first few weeks post-surgery or until you can safely move around your home on your own.
You can also hire a temporary or short-term in-home caregiver who specializes in post-surgery recovery. A joint replacement care specialist can help you recover in the comfort of your own home while staying safe and healthy.
They can often also help with mobility, activities of daily living, transportation to medical appointments, medication management, light housework, meal preparation, and grocery shopping.
You might also consider a short-term assisted living joint replacement care facility. If you are of senior age, you may have a better chance of a full, successful recovery and regaining total mobility if you receive 24/7 care from experts in the first stage of your recovery process.
Learn More About Joint Replacement Care in Southern Arizona
You shouldn’t try to recover alone after joint replacement surgery. At Placita In Home Care, we offer highly specialized and flexible in-home joint replacement care services in the Tucson and Phoenix metro areas. Our experienced, friendly caregivers can help you maintain your independence and comfort while you recover in your own home.
We will provide physical assistance, help you restore mobility, and improve your quality of life post-surgery. We can work closely with your surgical team and medical team to make sure all of your post-surgery care instructions are carefully followed.
Our joint replacement care services are available on a full-time, temporary, or ongoing basis depending on your needs. We offer transportation to medical and physical therapy appointments, home safety evaluations, mobilization and ambulation services, in-home assistance, and more.
To schedule a consultation for in-home care in the Tucson or Phoenix metro area, call us today or fill out our contact form online.