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What Happens After Surgery?

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Will I need to stay in the hospital?

On average, patients spend two nights in the hospital following surgery. Some patients may spend as little as one night, others may stay as long as three nights.

Will I be able to walk after surgery?

Most patients use a walker or crutches after surgery but often will be able to progress rapidly to using a cane.

Can I go directly home after the hospital?

Many patients are able to leave the hospital and go directly home after surgery. It is important to identify a family member or friend who will be able to help with common household tasks such as preparing meals and doing dishes. Some patients will require a stay a specialized care facility such as a nursing home or rehab hospital.

Will I be able to climb stairs?

In general, patients are able to climb stairs after leaving the hospital; however, it is often initially slow and tiring. This soon improves, but most patients are happiest if initially they are able to stay on one floor after returning home from surgery.

Will I be able to drive?

Most patients are not safe to drive at about three to six weeks after surgery. Your surgeon and their team will guide you as to when it is safe to drive.

How long will I be out of work?

Most patients are out of work for at least a few weeks following surgery. Patients with very physical jobs may take as long as three months to return to work.

Will I have to take pain medication?

Many efforts are ongoing to reduce the pain patients have after surgery; however, most patients still do require some pain medications for the first few weeks after surgery.

Will I need physical therapy?

All patients benefit from specific exercises after surgery. These will be directed by your surgeon and often will involve a physical therapist. Most patients need to do their exercises for a minimum of four to six weeks following surgery.

Are there any activities I will not be able to participate in after I recover from my joint replacement?

In general, most patients are advised to avoid running, jumping, or impact sports after surgery. It is hoped that these recommendations will make your joint replacement last longer.


This article has been written and peer reviewed by the AAHKS Patient and Public Relations Committee and the AAHKS Evidence Based Medicine Committee. Links to these pages or content used from the articles must be given proper citation to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons.