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Orthopedic surgery


Before you have orthopedic surgery or any other procedure, it’s comforting to know what to expect. At Dignity Health, your doctor will go over every aspect of your care and treatment with you ahead of time.

Your doctor will speak to you about the following details:

  • Any steps you need to take before your procedure
  • Where your procedure will be performed
  • What type of procedure you will have
  • The length of your procedure
  • How you may feel during and after
  • Benefits, potential risks, and complications
  • If you have any current health concerns or illnesses
  • Your allergies and current medications, if any


As with any surgery, recovery from orthopedic surgery involves time and rest. Most patients experience some pain and swelling immediately after their surgery, which diminishes over time. Your care team will work with you to manage any discomfort.

The length of your recovery from orthopedic surgery will depend on what type of procedure you had. Some procedures require a couple weeks of recovery, while others may take up to several months of rest and rehabilitation before you can return to your normal activities.

In the long term, most people who have orthopedic surgery return to normal activities without permanent effects. Joint replacement, one common orthopedic surgery, can significantly improve your quality of life and range of motion, reducing pain when using your joint. If you receive an artificial joint, you can expect it to last 15-20 years.

Talk with your doctor about the following aspects of your recovery process:

  • Any potential restrictions from activities
  • Follow up treatments, such as physical therapy and other rehabilitation
  • Length of your recovery
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medications

The main goal of an orthopedic surgery or procedure is to improve your life by reducing pain, improving your range of motion, and helping you regain the ability to do the things you enjoy.

Dignity Health offers orthopedic surgery and procedures as part of our orthopedic services.

Should I see an orthopedic surgeon?

Orthopedic specialists treat a wide variety of congenital disabilities, injuries, age-related concerns, and illnesses related to the musculoskeletal system.

In most cases, your primary care physician will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon if you have an injury or persistent pain in your joints, bones, or muscles requiring surgery. Some examples of these situations include:

  • You have joint or other muscle pain after an injury that gets worse over time or doesn’t go away with non-surgical treatment
  • You have a previous fracture that isn’t healing properly
  • You have hip, knee, or other joint pain that interferes with your daily activities and isn’t responding to non-surgical treatment
  • You have moderate to advanced arthritis in your knee, hands, feet, or hip that may require a joint replacement
  • You had previous medical treatment for joint pain that was unsuccessful
  • You have a moderate to severe injury to your bones, joints, or connective tissues that requires surgical treatment

If an injury or other condition is making it difficult for you to move, or you have signs of an infection such as a fever or heat and redness that spreads past your injury location, please seek urgent (same-day) medical care. 

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.