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What To Expect Post-Orthopaedic Surgery

14 September 2021

Joint replacement surgery – and any orthopaedic surgery for that matter – are decisions that should not be taken lightly. While you will definitely welcome the pain relief a successful surgery will afford you, you will naturally be anxious about the procedure itself and the subsequent recovery period.

Naturally, the recovery process and rehabilitation begins immediately post-orthopaedic surgery. Before you are discharged from your surgical facility, a care team will begin the rehabilitation process usually two to four hours post-surgery. The activities you will perform are dependent on you as the patient and the type of surgery, but generally you will be up and moving out of bed as quickly and as safely as possible.

In the hospital

A few hours post-surgery, you will be taken to your hospital room. For those who had surgery in the morning, you may be up and walking as early as the afternoon or evening, while others may rest. For most patients, the first night post-orthopaedic surgery is uncomfortable but tolerable with anti-nausea and intravenous pain medications.

Meanwhile, your orthopaedic surgeon will work with nurses, physical therapists and other healthcare professionals to begin implementing a recovery and rehabilitation plan tailored to your needs. After you have been discharged, you will adhere to an at-home rehabilitation program on your own, receive in-home visits from a physical therapist or do physical therapy at a specialist facility.

At home

You will be discharged from the hospital or surgical facility with detailed instructions about medications and dosages, activities to do and avoid, weight-bearing status, problems to contact your doctor about, and when to follow up (usually 2-3 and 8 weeks post-orthopaedic surgery). Most orthopaedic surgical procedures require some sort of physical or occupational therapy – or sometimes both.

Generally, the objective of physical and occupational therapy is:

  • Training your nerves and muscles to work together again
  • Restoring strength, balance, motion and mobility
  • Assisting in standing and walking again
  • Learning to use canes and walkers
  • Helping you perform tasks such as dressing, bathing, getting out of bed and eating

During the first few weeks of post-orthopaedic surgery recovery, there are number of things to look out for while healing:

  • Incision care
  • Swelling & bruising
  • Wound drainage
  • Pain
  • Limping
  • Fever


Any exercise programs you are recommended post-orthopaedic surgery is not to be considered as a temporary plan. It is very important to maintain a continuous physical therapy and exercise regime to improve your mobility and strength.

Recovering from any orthopaedic surgery takes time, so it is important to remain patient and have realistic expectations of your abilities and limitations. Your doctor will be able to educate you on the typical recovery times, rehabilitation requirements and your individual expectations.

If you are experiencing any problems post-orthopaedic surgery, please contact your preferred orthopaedic surgeon – especially if your wound opens, you see redness or if the incision feels warm. If you are currently seeking medical advice on an orthopaedic issue contact the friendly team at Lane Orthopaedic Surgery today on 07 3394 4228.

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