Rehabilitation at home

After joint replacement surgery, rehabilitation will begin in the ward on the day of the surgery, condition permitting. After surgery, you should recover your ability to function within a few weeks and then gradually reduce and stop the use of mobility aids according to the hospital’s instructions. Typically, mobility aids will be needed for two to six weeks.

Pain is normal after the surgery, as the operation involves removing damaged surfaces and manipulating your soft tissues, including muscles. This will cause swelling, burning, a sensation of pressure and bruising in the operated limb. Post-operative pain will differ from pre-operative pain, and it will subside in time. Active rehabilitation and exercise will require regular pain medication. Pain must not be allowed to prevent you from moving and exercising. Your pain and need for medication will be highly individual.

You will receive the invite for your post-operative check-up at Coxa’s outpatient clinic two to three months after your surgery.

How should I use my pain medication?

A woman with a glass of water in her hand

During your first weeks back at home, you should use the same pain medication dosage as you had in the hospital. In addition to regular pain medication, you will be prescribed discretionary painkillers, which you may use as you see fit. Your life at home will be more active than it was in the hospital, which may increase pain and swelling as you move more. It is vital that you do not let pain hinder your rehabilitation.

Before you are discharged, a nurse will instruct you in the use of your medication at home and give you your prescriptions. Use the pain medication according to the instructions until you can walk and exercise painlessly. Reduce your dose step by step by trying out a smaller dose. The need for pain medication is highly individual, so no definite period for use is given.

Swelling and bruising

Swelling around the wound and the whole limb is normal. The extent and duration of the swelling varies by individual, and it may last for several months. Initially, swelling can be prevented by avoiding sitting and standing for long periods at a time. Raising the limb and applying cold compresses several times a day will also bring down the swelling.

Bruises will often form around the wound and the limb, but these will heal on their own. The bruises may be painful and it may take a long time for them to heal.

Movement and rest

You are allowed to walk as usual after surgery. At first, you will use crutches or a walker to help you walk. You can put your full weight on the operated limb. As you get the hang of walking and no longer limp, you can let the crutches go one at a time. To avoid excessive strain, it is better to start with several short walks a day, and keep indoors at first. You can start walk longer distances as pain permits.

On slippery ice and snow, you should use non-skid shoes or shoe accessories and ice spikes on your crutches. As you progress, training poles will help you find a good walking rhythm and balance.

You should balance out exercise with rest several times a day. Excessive strain may delay your recovery and increase pain and swelling around the joint. You may also rest on your side by keeping a pillow between your knees to improve your position. Avoid long sessions of sitting. Keeping your foot raised prevents swelling. Applying cold compresses to the surgical wound may relieve pain and swelling.

Take advantage of the free home rehabilitation exercise programmes in OmaCoxa

A man's legs walking in the forest with hiking shoes

Monitoring your wound

Redness and burning are part of the normal wound healing process; the burning may increase after exercise. A difference in temperature compared to an intact lower limb is normal for several months after the operation.

  • Keep the dressing on the wound for five days. If the wound still bleeds after five days, keep the wound dressed until it becomes dry.
  • Always change the dressing with clean, washed hands.
  • You can wash as usual. Dry the wound by patting it down lightly with a clean towel.

Staple removal

As you return home, book an appointment to have your staples removed at your local health centre or a private service provider. You can bathe in a sauna once the staple holes have healed, but no earlier than the day following the removal of the staples. Read more: Partners – Stella

Stomach medication

You may receive a prescription for stomach medication to compensate for the body’s stress and pain medication use. Stomach medication will prevent irritation and damage to your stomach lining.

Deep vein thrombosis prevention

Active exercise is the best way to prevent deep vein thrombosis (blood clots). You will be prescribed thrombolytic medication after your surgery. You will be instructed in the ward on how to use the medication.

We will call you

Our nurse will call you one week after the surgery. You can ask the nurse anything about the surgery.

Have a problem?

Always Coxa’s inpatient ward (+358 3 3117 8040) if you have trouble with your wound, or

  • the pain, swelling, redness or burning in the wound area keeps growing
  • the wound seeps pus
  • the bleeding from the wound increases
  • your body temperature is over 38 °C for more than a day.
  • Do not start antibiotic treatment before a Coxa physician has assessed whether it is necessary.