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After Discharge

When you are discharged from the hospital, there are a number of things you should understand to ensure the success of your orthopaedic surgery:

Activity Guidelines

Exercise

  • Be aware of any restrictions ordered by your surgeon. These restrictions will be written on your discharge instructions.
  • Follow your exercise program as outlined by the physical therapist or occupational therapist.
  • If ordered, a physical therapist and/or an occupational therapist will visit you at home. The therapist will assess your abilities to perform what you learned in the hospital. The therapist will then build on your skills to improve your performance and determine new goals that will allow you to become more independent.
  • It is important to continue the maintenance programs given to you as part of your daily routine. Your endurance will continue to improve.
  • Continue to use any of the home aids and devices to protect and reduce stress on the surgical areas.

Automobiles

  • Your physician will decide when it is safe for you to drive your automobile.
  • As a passenger, the following tips will make your trip a safe and enjoyable one:
    • Have the driver park the car a few feet from the curb so that you enter and exit the car from street level rather than the curb.
    • Have the seat pushed back before getting into the car.
    • Use a firm cushion to raise the seat height.
    • Sit down first, then bring legs in pivoting to face forward.
    • Use your seat belt.
    • Your physical therapist will advise you of any special precautions you need to use as a passenger.

Hygiene

Bathing

  • Your surgeon will write any restrictions on your discharge summary.
  • Depending on your surgery, a shower may need to be substituted for that favorite soaking hot bath.
  • Showering is easier and safer when you use the following items:
    • A rubber mat or other type of non slip surface.
    • Grab bars
    • Long handled sponge
    • Hand held shower hose
    • Your occupational therapist will advise you which of the above items are necessary.

Wound Care

  • Know the appearance of your wound. Your surgeon will write orders regarding the cleaning and bandaging of your wound before you leave the hospital.
  • Your nurse will instruct you on wound care and may require a return demonstration from you.
  • If ordered, a visiting nurse will check your wound once you are home. The visiting nurse will reinforce wound care instructions to you or your caregiver.
  • The visiting nurse may also be ordered to remove your staples.
  • Look at your incision every day. Report the following signs and symptoms to your surgeon:
    • Drainage or odor from the incision
    • Increased swelling or pain in the surgical area
    • Tenderness
    • Increased redness
    • Fever
    • Numbness or tingling
  • The visiting nurse can also collaborate with your physician and assist with any change in your treatment.

Medications

  • Your surgeon will provide prescriptions for your pain medicine. This prescription will be based on your pain management during your hospitalization.
  • Take the medicine as directed. Taking more than the prescribed dose can be dangerous.
  • Narcotic pain medicines are constipating. Eat high fiber foods, fresh fruits and vegetables and drink at least eight glasses of fluid each day.
  • Unless instructed otherwise, take a laxative, when necessary to relieve constipation.
  • Your surgeon may also prescribe a stool softener to aid your bowel function.
  • Depending on the type of surgery, it may be necessary to take a medicine to prevent blood clots. If so, be sure that you take the medication as directed.
  • Your nurse or case manager can answer any questions you may have about you medication.

Diet

  • Resume your normal diet. Eat plenty of foods high in protein to help with healing.
  • Multivitamins may also be beneficial to healing, particularly Vitamins C and E.
  • A nutritionist is available to visit you in the hospital. Feel free to ask questions about your diet.

Infection

  • Notify your doctor if any infection occurs. Antibiotic treatment may be necessary.
  • Infection can occur in the bladder, respiratory tract, ear, teeth, gums, or other area that comes in contact with the blood stream.
  • Depending on the type of surgery, you may require antibiotics before certain tests or procedures.

Pregnancy

  • Extra weight during pregnancy means additional stress on knees. If your surgery involves the knees, be very careful in observing safety precautions regarding stairs and your environment.

Sexual Activity

  • Normal sexual activity is possible upon discharge although some modifications may be necessary.
  • Your surgeon will advise you of any restrictions.

Metal Detectors

  • The sensitivity of metal detectors can vary. If your surgery results in a prosthesis, it may cause the alarm to sound.
  • Tell the security officer that you have a prosthesis. A hand held wand will be passed over the prosthesis to confirm its presence.

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