Joint pain and a growing lack of mobility are health problems that many Americans face. While these conditions can be a problem for younger generations, they are more common for those in later stages of life.

An increasingly common medical solution for joint pain and the accompanying loss of mobility is to replace the worn or damaged joint with an artificial one through joint replacement surgery services, also called total joint arthroplasty (TJA). More than one million of these surgeries are now performed in the United States each year and that number is expected to quadruple by the year 2030. 

If you have been scheduled for a total joint replacement surgical procedure, you may be worried about what the recovery period will be like. If so, the general information detailed here will help you understand what to expect during the first few days of post-operative care. 

Activity resumes

Patients who undergo joint replacement procedures without complications are often able to resume some level of activity and mobility very quickly after their surgery. For example, a routine knee replacement surgical patient who does not experience surgical complications should expect to be helped to stand and walk with the aid of a walker or other aid within hours of waking up from the anesthesia.

Because the hip joint is larger and bears more weight and stress on the joint, hip replacement patients may need to remain in bed a bit longer than those receiving an artificial knee or ankle might. 

Therapy begins

Both occupational and physical therapy are used to help joint replacement patients recuperate as fully as possible after the surgical procedure. The combination of these two types of therapy help to ensure that the patient learns proper movement and usage techniques to help strengthen the supporting musculature and speed the healing process. 

Many types of occupational and physical therapy are able to be provided in an out-patient or home setting for knee, ankle, and shoulder and some other types of procedures. Hip replacement patients, however, may need more intense therapy, such as that provided in an in-patient rehabilitation setting. 

Because infection is one of the most common complications of any joint replacement procedure, patients will be provided with information about recognizing signs of infection. Home nursing visits may also be provided to assist with wound care. 

To learn more about what to expect during the first few days after joint replacement surgery, patients should contact their medical care provider or joint replacement service representative well before the date of their procedure.