Caring For Yourself at Home

When you go home there are a variety of things you need to know for safety, a speedy recovery and your comfort. To help optimize your recovery, we recommend that you continue the exercises described in “In the Hospital,” Exercises after Surgery. In addition, since each person’s situation is different, we recommend you discuss specific activities you can and cannot do after surgery with your surgeon.

Control Your Discomfort
  • Take your pain medicine at least 30 minutes before physical therapy. Do not drive if you are taking a narcotic pain medication.
  • Use cold for pain control. Applying ice to your affected joint will decrease discomfort and swelling. You can use ice before and after your exercise program. Your nurse will instruct you on the use of cold therapy before you are discharged.
Body Changes

A well-nourished body will respond better to healing and therapy. Your appetite may be poor, but it is important to drink plenty of fluids to keep from becoming dehydrated.

  • Your desire for solid food will return.
  • You may have difficulty sleeping. This is not abnormal. Don’t sleep or nap too much during the day.
  • Your energy level will be decreased for the first month.
  • Pain medication contains narcotics which promote constipation. Use stool softeners or laxatives such as milk of magnesia if necessary.
Stockings

You may be asked to wear special stockings. These stockings are used to help the circulation in the veins in your legs. This helps to keep swelling down and reduce the chance of blood clots.

Caring for Your Incision

Remember, it is important for you and those who may be helping you to wash your hands before you touch the area around your incision or change the dressing.

  • Keep your incision dry.
  • Keep your incision covered with a light dry dressing until your staples are removed, usually 10-14 days after surgery or until your drainage has stopped. If your incision is dry, you may keep it open to air.
  • Ask your surgeon when you may shower.
  • Do not soak in a bath until your incision is completely healed.
  • Notify your surgeon or home health professional if there is increased drainage, redness, pain, odor or heat around the incision.
  • Take your temperature if you feel warm or sick. Call your surgeon if it exceeds 101° F.
  • Your nurse will instruct you on the care of your incision upon discharge.
  • If you cannot see your incision, ask a family member or caregiver to check the area for redness, swelling or drainage.

For Questions

Any questions regarding the above information, feel free to contact Peggy Ann at 302-731-2888 ext 1160.