Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery 9

Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery

Knee Precautions

  • Never rest with a pillow under your knee – you may lose the ability to straighten your knee.
  • Carefully follow instructions from your doctor about how much weight you can put on your operated leg:
  • No weight bearing – no foot contact with ground
  • Touch down weight bearing – touch foot to ground for balance only
  • Partial weight bearing – usually one-fourth to one-half body weight
  • Weight bearing as tolerated – as much as comfortable
  • Don’t cross your operated leg over your non-operated leg
  • Continue to use your walker or crutches after surgery as advised by your doctor or physical therapist

Incision Care

Keep your incision clean and dry and check it daily. Call your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Fever over 100º
  • Drainage from incision
  • Redness around incision
  • Increased swelling around incision
  • Incision hot to touch
  • Chest pain
  • Chest congestion
  • Problems with breathing
  • Calf pain or swelling in your legs

Don’t shower or sit in a bathtub until your surgeon okays this activity.

Your staples or stitches will be removed about 10 to 14 days after surgery. Your incision will heal, and the swelling and bruising will get better over the next few weeks.


When you get home, keep up the exercise program you learned in the hospital.

You may see your physical therapist for several in-home treatments. This is to ensure you are safe in and about the home and getting in and out of a car. Your physical therapist will make recommendations about your safety, review your exercise program and continue working with you on range of motion for knees and hip precautions for avoiding dislocation.

Expect to regain strength and endurance as you begin to take on more of your normal daily routine. Home therapy visits should end when you can safely leave the house and outpatient physical therapy should begin.

The following pages provide some examples of common exercises that are usually recommended in a home exercise program. However, your orthopaedic surgeon and physical therapist will outline a specific plan that you should follow. You can refer to the following pages to assist you in performing your recommended exercises.