How much pain will I have after total joint replacement surgery?

The postoperative pain is temporary and resolves within a few days. Recovery after a total joint replacement varies and is different for each individual.

The majority of patients feel temporary pain around the replaced joint, and this is due to the weakness in the surrounding muscles resulting from inactivity. The pain usually resolves gradually once your body gets adjusted to the new joint and tissues heal.

Every patient reacts differently to total joint replacement surgery, depending on their health condition and the complexity of the procedure. Postoperative joint pain, which is part of the natural healing process, also fluctuates and can have several causes:

  • biological: increased sensitivity in patients suffering from arthritis
  • surgical complications: infections, nerve injuries, poor alignment or rotation, stiffness, instability
  • postoperative effects: from swelling, inflammation, and wound healing
  • chronic pain: persisting for three months or longer

Your doctor will advise you on how to use the replaced joint after a short observation period. Following your surgeon’s instructions is essential to speed up your recovery.

Recommendations and restrictions after a total joint replacement surgery

During the immediate postoperative period, you will be able to do most of the activities of daily living. Still, you have to take care of and avoid the activities that exert excessive stress on your newly replaced joint. Generally, the following precautions need to be taken while you stay active:

  • driving: it is better to resume driving once you are off narcotic pain medications and when you have recovered good strength and reflexes
  • walking: after the follow-up visit (six weeks), you can start using a cane to move about. Walk with the help of a cane as much as you want for as long as you are comfortable
  • sleeping position: you may sleep on your back, on your sides, or your stomach without any restrictions
  • returning to work: it may require at least six weeks to return to work, depending on the type of activities you perform. You should avoid lifting heavy objects after your return. Avoid certain activities that may put the newly replaced joint under strain, such as frequent climbing of stairs or ladders, sitting or standing for extended periods, and positions such as kneeling, bending, or stooping forward
  • regular exercises: perform exercises taught by your physical therapist for two months after surgery. Low-impact activities such as swimming may be started as soon as the wound has healed completely
  • diet: proper nutrition is essential for healing. Your diet should include fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich foods that help promote healing, such as eggs, fish, and chicken. You should have an adequate intake of fluids (at least eight glasses a day)

Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.