Timeline for Knee Replacement & Resurfacing Surgery (What to Expect)

Surgery Scheduled with Joshua Hickman, MD

  • Review the information about your surgery at joshuahickmanmd.com
  • Ensure that you have a preoperative appointment scheduled with Dr. Hickman or the physician assistant 1-3 weeks prior to surgery.
  • Make a list of all current medications including dosages and times taken and bring this to your preoperative appointment.
  • Receive primary care physician clearance for surgery if instructed by Dr. Hickman's office. If recommended by Dr. Hickman, schedule prehab with a physcial therapist. This should be completed before your preop appointment.

One Week Prior to Surgery

  • Stop all anti-inflammatory medications. (Aspirin, Diclofenac, Aleve, Naproxen, Ibuprofen, etc.)
  • If you are on a blood thinner, contact Dr. Hickman's office or be sure to discuss this at your preop to determine when it needs to be stopped.

Day Before Surgery

  • The hospital or surgery center will call with instructions and arrival time
  • Bring your own loose-fitting clothing for therapy after surgery
  • Nothing to eat or drink after midnight
  • Bring a list of medications including dosages and instructions to the hospital
  • If you use a CPAP machine, bring it with you to the hospital
  • Scrub your knee and entire leg with the scrub brush given to you at your preoperative appointment

Day of Surgery

  • Upon arrival to the hospital or surgery center, you will have labs drawn and an IV placed
  • IV antibiotics will be given 30 minutes prior to surgery and for 23 hours after surgery to prevent infection
  • Before surgery, you will receive a nerve block, which significantly decreases pain after surgery
  • You will be given spinal anesthesia (we work to perfect the optimal anesthesia and pain control as well as decrease nausea)
  • You will be given minimal sedation to relax and sleep through the surgery but no tube will be placed down your throat, you will breathe on your own during surgery
  • Surgery time is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes
  • We will wear special suites and practice sterile techniques in an effort to prevent infection
  • A small incision is made to preserve muscle
  • The implant will perfectlly match your anatomy and will allow for normal function and motion
  • A bandage and ice will be placed on your knee
  • You will be in the recovery room for approximately 45 minutes
  • Specialized nurses trained in joint replacement recovery will welcome you to the floor. Our staff takes pride in serving your needs and routinely is ranked at the highest level of quality care
  • Your diet will consist of solid foods and you will have several menu choices
  • There are no restrictions on light to normal activities
  • Important Tasks on Day 1:
    • Sit up in bed, eat regular food, and drink
    • Urinate on your own (if not within 4 hours of arrival on floor, notify the nurse)
    • Deep breathe
    • Stand and get out of bed with staff assistance
    • Walk the halls with assistance

First Day After Surgery

  • Your dressing will be changed
  • You will have physical therapy in the morning and afternoon
  • An occupational therapist will discuss issues including driving, getting in and out of vehicles, getting dressed, and other helpful home tips
  • A discharge planner will meet with you regarding home therapy or rehab center treatment if necessary
  • You will recieve a blood thinner to prevent blood clots and you will need to take as directed
  • You will recieve pain medications orally as needed as well as an IV anti-inflammatory medication
  • You will go home with the prescription for pain medication. GET OFF PAIN PILLS as soon as possible. Narcotics will not be refilled after 4-6 weeks postoperatively
  • Please notify the staff of any issues with urinating but keep in mind that difficulty with bowel movements is normal (it could be several days before you have a bowel movement)
  • You will receive instructions regarding your incision, medications, compression hose, and bathing before you leave the hospital

1-3 Weeks After Surgery

  • You should not have a dressing. If spots or drainage occur cover with sterile gauze and light tape (this is common)
  • You may get your incision wet with soap and water, but do not soak it
  • Peel off tape strips and clean incision 2 weeks after surgery
  • No hot tubs or under-water baths for 4 weeks
  • Outpatient Physical Therapy is preferred
  • You may start outpatient physical therapy anytime you feel ready, but no later than 10 days after surgery
  • Remember, WALK, WALK, WALK, and then ICE and Elevate
  • May cross legs. When bending past 90 degrees, keep legs apart and elbows between legs
  • You may participate in activity as tolerated
  • Fever around 100 degrees in the first week is normal
  • It is common to have bowel difficulty, however, notify our office if you go several days after leaving the hospital without a bowel movement
  • Leg swelling to some degree is normal
  • Some bruising and swelling and redness is normal. It is common to have some numbness around the incision
  • Worrisome findings include: drainage from wound, redness that increases, shortness of breath or chest pain, fever of 102 or higher, and dramatic new leg swelling
  • CALL DR HICKMAN AFTER HOURS IF YOU HAVE CONCERNS - Dr. Hickman or someone from his staff is available 24/7 for questions or concerns. 

3-6 Weeks After Surgery

  • It is common to be stiff and sore at the end of the day
  • It is common to be stiff after sitting
  • Anti-inflammatories (Ibuprofen or Naproxen should be taken twice a day as long as you have cleared with your primary care physician)
  • You should need less pain medication and ompletely off it by week 6
  • There are no restrictions on activity, in fact increasing your activities is good for your recovery
  • You should have completed physical therapy by 6 weeks after surgery
  • Worrisome findings include: drainage from wound, redness that increases, shortness of breath or chest pain, fever of 102 or higher, and dramatic new leg swelling

3-4 Months After Surgery

  • Less stiffness, however stiffness can still exist
  • Sore at the end of the day
  • Activity should be near normal and you can increase to heavy activities without any restrictions