How will I recover after a joint replacement surgery?

Nowadays, joint replacement operations are not followed by several weeks of bed rest. The importance of early mobilisation cannot be understated: it helps prevent complications such as thromboses and accelerates the healing process.

As early as the first day after the operation, you will be mobilised by a physiotherapist. He will explain to you which movements you should make and how to use the walking aids, if required. The physiotherapist will practice how to manage normal daily movements with you every day. Physiotherapy promotes muscle development, coordination and mobility.

After a knee or shoulder surgery, a continuous passive motion (CPM) device is used, on which the operated joint is thoroughly moved, to an adjustable extent.

After a hip or knee joint replacement surgery, the patient must wear compression stockings or a bandage on the operated leg for a period of time, to prevent thromboses and embolisms. After this, you will usually be able to subject your leg to normal loads again and will no longer require walking aids.

As a rule, your stay at hospital is followed by a rehabilitation period lasting several weeks. This can be either as an outpatient at your home, or as an inpatient at a rehabilitation clinic.

Since, in the majority of cases, knee prosthesis operations are elective interventions, you can discuss the type and location of rehabilitation with your doctor either before or, at the latest, shortly after the operation. Your doctor will explain all the details to you and complete the relevant applications. It may be necessary to make enquiries with your health insurer.

Even after the rehabilitation period is over, you should continue to regularly do the exercises you have learnt!

After a prosthesis surgery, you should go to your doctor at regular, fixed intervals for follow-up examinations. He will make a clinical assessment of the knee joint and arrange for an X-ray to be taken. He will therefore be able to recognise and treat any complications early on, which may occur without you noticing. Your prosthesis pass will help you remember your appointments.

Since the muscles are not strong enough to adequately protect the joint from incorrect movements until 2 months after the operation, particular care should be taken in the first few weeks to avoid certain movements. Your physiotherapist will be able to explain this in detail and offer specific training. Always try to avoid sports where high impacts are involved and there is a risk of falling.

Hip joint

  • sitting in low chairs
  • rotary outward movement of the operated leg
  • heavy impact loads

Knee joint

  • squatting and kneeling down, when gardening for example
  • crossing the legs whilst seated
  • raising the operated leg while stretched

Shoulder joint

  • performing work which causes shoulder exertion (above head height and in front of the body)
  • working on ladders or scaffolding