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After Discharge

patient getting out of wheelchair and into car

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

Activity Guidelines


Be aware of any restrictions from your surgeon. These restrictions will be written on your discharge instructions.

Follow your exercise program as outlined by your surgeon, the physical therapist and/or occupational therapist.

If prescribed, 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.


Your physician will decide when it is safe for you to drive your automobile.

As a passenger, the following tips will make your trip safer and more enjoyable:

  • 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. If necessary, use a firm cushion to raise the seat height.
  • Sit down first, then pivot your legs to face forward.
  • Always use your seat belt.

Your physical therapist will advise you of any special precautions you need to use as a passenger.



Your surgeon will write any restrictions on your discharge summary.

Depending on your surgery, showers may need to be substituted for baths.

Showering is easier and safer when you use the following items:

  • A rubber mat or other type of nonslip surface
  • Grab bars
  • Long handled sponge
  • Handheld shower hose

Your occupational therapist will advise you which of the above items are necessary depending upon your specific surgery.

Wound Care

Your nurse will instruct you on wound care and may require a return demonstration from you.

Know the appearance of your wound. Your surgeon will write orders regarding the cleaning and bandaging of your wound before you leave the hospital.

If ordered, a visiting nurse will check your wound once you are home. The visiting nurse will reinforce wound care instructions to you and/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.


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 your favorite 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 your medication.


Unless instructed otherwise, 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.

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 handheld wand will be passed over the prosthesis to confirm its presence.

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