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Frequently asked questions


At Dignity Health, we want to be sure you are well-informed as you prepare for your orthopedic surgery.   We are committed to ensuring patients and their caregivers are prepared for joint replacement surgery—before, while in the hospital, and once discharged home. 

Below are some common questions patients have about total joint replacement surgery. If you need additional information, be sure to discuss your specific questions with your Surgeon or Nurse Navigator. 

How long will my surgery last?

Surgery will last from one to three hours. 

Will I have pain after surgery?

You should expect some pain after surgery, but it will lessen greatly over the first several days. Medication can be given to keep you comfortable. As you continue to heal, your medication will be reduced to an over the counter pain reliever and then none.

How long will I be in the hospital?

Some patients are able to go home the same day of their surgery. Most patients stay one night. 

How soon can I walk again?

Most patients start walking a few hours after surgery.

Will I need to use a walker?

You will start out using a walker in the hospital. You will be using the walker for about two weeks, and then a cane for two to three weeks. On average you should be walking on your own by four to six weeks after surgery.

When can I drive my car?

You cannot drive immediately after surgery and you cannot drive while you are taking pain medication. Generally, driving resumes four to six weeks after surgery.

When can I shower?

You can shower when you get home. Your incision is covered with a waterproof dressing, however, shower sparingly to preserve the integrity of the dressing. Do not take a bath, enter a hot tub or a swimming pool until cleared by your doctor as this can increase the risk of infection.

When can I play sports again?

You are encouraged to participate in low-impact activities after your full rehabilitation. These activities include walking, dancing, golfing, hiking, swimming, bowling, and gardening. High-impact activities such as running are not recommended. 

Please discuss with your surgeon when you will be able to participate in specific activities. 

What are the major risks related to total joint replacement surgery?

Infection and blood clots may occur, but can be avoided by use of antibiotics and anticoagulant medication. The chances of an infection or blood clots are very low. Dislocation is prevented by using all precautions taught to you by your therapists. Your surgeon will discuss the risks of surgery with you.

What are the signs of a blood clot?

A blood clot can happen on either leg. Signs of a blood clot include:

  • Pain or tenderness in one or both calves
  • Swelling or lump in one or both legs
  • Redness at the surgical site

Call your surgeon right away if you think you may have a blood clot.

Who do I call if I have a question or concerns once I am home?

For general questions call your Ortho Nurse Navigator (831) 462-7597. If you have a concern regarding your incision site, or if you have an upset stomach, vomiting, constipation or problem with urination (burning, urgency or frequency) call your surgeon’s office as they are on-call 24/7.