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Joint Replacement Camp


The doctors and staff at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center are pleased that you have chosen us to provide your total joint care. We are committed to providing quality medical care and excellent service to ensure the best possible outcomes for total joint replacement.

It is important for you to realize that you will be responsible for a major portion of your post-operative rehabilitation, but rest assured there will be many healthcare professionals to guide you through the process. Modern medicine has made it possible for a stiff and painful joint to be replaced with one that is nearly the same as a normal healthy joint. As long as you follow the instructions of your doctors, nurses, and therapists, and are willing to follow the recommended exercises and rehabilitation, you will soon be on your way to a more active lifestyle.

Below is just a guide and your doctors, nurses, or therapists may add or change the recommendations based on your personal needs.

  • What is total joint replacement?
  • Pre-operative care and planning for total joint replacement
  • Post-operative care
  • Pain management
  • Restrictions
  • Physical therapy
  • Precautions
  • Frequently asked questions

Arthritis is a disease of the articular cartilage, the smooth cushion that pads and protects joints. In a healthy joint, this cushion prevents two bones from rubbing against each other. Over time, or following injury, the cartilage begins to wear away leading to bone-on-bone contact. The nerve endings surrounding the bones become irritated resulting in pain, swelling, and stiffness associated with arthritis.

Total Joint Replacement
Although hips and knees are the most common joints replaced, this procedure can be performed on other joints, including the ankle, foot, shoulder, elbow, and fingers. Total joint replacement removes an arthritic or damaged joint and replaces it with an artificial joint, called prosthesis. The materials used in a total joint replacement are designed to enable the joint to move just like a normal joint. The prosthesis is generally composed of two parts: a metal piece that fits closely into a matching sturdy plastic piece. Several metals are used, including stainless steel, alloys of cobalt and chrome, and titanium. The plastic material, polyethylene, is durable and wear resistant. Plastic bone cement may be used to anchor the prosthesis to the bone.

There are no guarantees regarding how long your new joint will last. Various factors such as weight, activity and bone quality can affect the usable life of your new prosthesis. Current studies indicate that the average prosthesis can last 15 to 20 years. As new materials and procedures become available, these expectations may continue to improve.

Since each person’s condition is unique, needs may differ between people and types of procedures. Your surgeon will discuss with you choices and recommendations tailored to meet your needs.

Getting Ready
Your surgeon’s office will make all the necessary arrangements for you. You will be asked to complete the following steps to prepare for your procedure:

  • An appointment date will be set for pre-admission testing. It is very important to keep this appointment. You will be asked to complete a four-page health history form that will provide us with information needed to guide your care. Your surgeon or the anesthesia department may require a blood work-up or other testing. You will meet with a representative of the anesthesia department to address any questions or concerns.
  • Be sure to bring your medications in their original containers or a detailed listing of medication names, doses, and frequency with you to the pre-admission appointment.
  • You may be asked by your surgeon or anesthetist to see your primary care doctor or practitioner for a check-up and/or diagnostic testing to assure that you are in the best possible medical condition to undergo the procedure.
  • Your doctor will discuss the risks, benefits and alternatives of the surgical procedure and you will be asked to sign a consent form in agreement with the informed consent discussion. This is a time for you to ask questions in order to fully understand what you are agreeing to have done and to fully understand how you can be an active partner in the best possible outcome from the operation.

Preparing for Your Operation

Joint Replacement Camp

Several times a month we offer the joint class for people who will be undergoing joint replacement surgery at Sarah Bush Lincoln. The two-hour class includes a comprehensive overview including what to expect before the surgery and after, pain management, physical therapy, and arrangements for care after the surgery. Our goal is for a successful, positive experience and to minimize pain following surgery.

For more information, contact Sarah Dirks, MSN, RN at 217-258-2447.

2023 Classes Joint Classes.png

Classes held on:

  • Tuesdays from 9 to 11 am
  • Thursdays from Noon to 2 pm
  • Fridays noon to 2 pm

Center for Healthy Living  
Prairie Pavilion 2
1004 Health Center Dr.
Mattoon, IL 61938
(Upstairs conference room)

*Class dates and times are subject to change.

Two weeks before your operation

  • Pre-admission testing should take place one to two weeks prior to your operation.
  • Review your medications with your surgeon and anesthesia representative. Follow any special instructions given regarding all medications, including prescription and over-the-counter medications and all vitamins and minerals.
  • Medications that increase bleeding You will be asked to stop taking all anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin, Motrin, Naproxen, Glucosamine, and Chondroitin. You will receive special instructions from your doctor and anesthesia representative if you are taking Coumadin, Eliquis, Plavix, Pradaxa, Trental, or Xarelto.

One week before your operation
This is an excellent time to begin preparing your home for your return after your procedure. Some things to consider include:

  • Clean your home.
  • Put clean linens on the bed.
  • Prepare meals and freeze them in single-serving containers.
  • Tend to yard work.
  • Pick up throw rugs and tack down loose carpeting.
  • Remove electrical cords and other obstructions from walkways.
  • Obtain a portable telephone and a television remote control, if you don’t already have them.

The night before your operation

  • No solid food after midnight
  • Can have clear liquids, water, tea or coffee
  • No cream or milk
  • No sweeteners
  • Clear juices (No pulp)
  • Soda - up to two hours prior to arrival time on the day of surgery

What to bring to the hospital

  • Personal hygiene items (toothbrush, deodorant, razor, hairbrush, etc.).
  • A loose-fitting robe.
  • Assistive devices, such as hearing aides, glasses, etc.
  • CPAP machine (if used at home).
  • Do not bring valuable jewelry or large amounts of cash.

On the Day of Your Operation

What to do
Enter through the Visitors Entrance (Entrance B) of the Health Center and check-in at the Surgery Reception Area, located just before the elevators. The receptionist will verify information with you, including whom you wish the surgeon to speak with regarding your progress following your operation. Under certain circumstances, females may be asked to provide a urine specimen to rule out the possibility of pregnancy. The receptionist will notify the operating room that you have arrived.

What to expect
In the preoperative holding area, you will change into a hospital gown. Any personal items or jewelry should be given to your family at this time. An IV will be started from which medications can be given throughout your operation and recovery process. You will meet with the anesthesia and operating room team who will be caring for you throughout the surgical procedure. You are encouraged to ask any and all questions that you may have.

Following your operation, you will be taken to the Post Anesthesia Recovery Room (PACU). You will remain in this area for about one to two hours before being transferred to your room on 3 East. Your surgeon will speak to your family members regarding the surgical outcome. During this time, your vital signs will be closely monitored and your pain controlled. Most of the discomfort occurs during the first 12 to 24 hours following your operation. You will receive pain medications by various methods:

  • IV (intravenous)
  • PCA pump (Patient Controlled Analgesia). A preset pump connected to your IV delivers small doses of pain medication at preset times. The pump will also be set to allow you to give yourself additional medication, if needed.
  • IM (Intramuscular) An injection of pain medication given in the muscle (usually your arm).
  • Pain pills.

Controlling pain is important to the recovery process. If the pain medication is not working, please let your care team know so adjustments can be made.

Following Your Surgery
You will be drowsy and remain in bed most of the day of your operation. Our nursing staff will assist you to get our of bed the evening of your surgery. Early ambulation is essential to a quicker recovery. You will begin using the compression pumps as soon as possible on the first day to prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. You will begin using the CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine if you have had a total knee replacement and your doctor has ordered it as a part of your treatment plan. It is very important to use your incentive spirometer as directed to expand your lungs and prevent pneumonia.

Day One
You will be assisted, as needed, getting out of bed, bathing, sitting in a recliner in your room, and walking. Your surgeon, physical therapist, and occupational therapist will visit with you to check your progress. Pain medication will continue to be administered in the same manner as the day of your procedure. X-rays will be taken of your new joint. You will continue to use the CPM machine while in bed. A case manager will visit with you about preparations for going home.

Day Two
You will be assisted with getting out of bed and walking. The surgical dressing may be changed depending on what your doctor has ordered. The IV pain medication will be stopped and you will begin taking pain medication by mouth. You will continue to use the CPM machine while in bed.

Day Three
The morning will be similar to Day Two. The decision to go home or to a rehabilitation unit will be made by you, your surgeon, your physical therapist, and your insurance company. Every attempt will be made to have this decision finalized in advance. If you are going to a rehabilitation unit, you are generally transferred following your morning physical therapy session.

If you are Going to a Rehabilitation Facility
It may be necessary to go to a rehabilitation facility in order to recover enough to return home independently. A case manager will assist you and your family in making these arrangements.

If you are Going Directly Home
Someone responsible needs to drive you home. Your driver should avoid bringing a van or truck, as these vehicle types are usually too difficult to get into following a joint replacement operation. If this is not possible, the case manager can help with arranging transportation, although the cost is generally not covered by insurance.

You will receive written “going home” instructions concerning medications, physical therapy, activity, and follow-up appointments. The case manager will arrange for equipment and home health visits through the agencies of your choice. You will be informed as to when and where you will continue your physical therapy. These options will be discussed with you when you are close to going home.

Going Home
Your doctor will decide when you can go home based on how well you are healing and your mobility. In the hospital, nurses, therapists and doctors will watch you closely to make sure you are doing everything correctly and safely. Once you are at home, there will be different obstacles that you did not have in the hospital or rehabilitation facility. Important things to remember when going home include:

  • Do sit in a stable, high-seated chair with two armrests so that you can push off from the chair when standing up. If the seat is too low, place a pillow in the seat of the chair.
  • Do use a “reacher” to retrieve items from the floor.
  • Do have someone put your pet dog or cat in another room with the door closed until you are safely seated.
  • Do have someone remove scatter rugs and hallway runners and tape down edges of area rugs.
  • Do remove unnecessary furniture to provide wide pathways for yourself.
  • Do keep all cords out of the way.
  • Do make sure your home is well-lit, including night light, a bedside light, and entry lights.
  • Do be very careful in the bathroom or kitchen where water could be on the floor.
  • Do use a raised toilet seat at home and the handicap toilet away from home.
  • Do use any safety bars or a shower chair as recommended by your therapist.
  • Do place a pillow between your legs in bed to remind yourself not to cross them.

Controlling discomfort

  • Take your pain medicine only as directed. It is recommended that you schedule a dose of pain medication at least 30 minutes prior to physical therapy.
  • Gradually wean yourself from prescription medication to Tylenol. Do not take anti- inflammatory medications until instructed by your doctor.
  • Change your position at least every 45 minutes throughout the day.

Caring for your incision

  • Keep your incision clean and dry.
  • You will be given specific instructions by your nurse for wound care at home prior to being discharged.
  • You will be able to shower after the staples are removed, typically 10 to 14 days after your operation.
  • Notify your surgeon or visiting nurse if there is any increased drainage, redness, pain, swelling, or heat around the incision.
  • Take your temperature if you feel sick. Call your doctor if it exceeds 100.5°F.
  • When your staples have been replaced by steri-strips (little white paper over the incision), allow them to fall off on their own. This usually occurs in seven to 10 days.

Temporary changes

  • You may experience a poor appetite following your operation. It is important that you drink plenty of fluids such as water, juice, milk and light soups to keep from getting dehydrated. Your desire for solid food will return.
  • You may have difficulty sleeping. This is not abnormal. Try not to sleep or nap too much during the day.
  • It is common for your energy level to be decreased for the first month.
  • Pain medication contains narcotics, which promotes constipation. Try eating more fruits and vegetables and food that have a high-fiber content. Use stool softeners as needed.

Recognizing and Preventing Potential Complications

Blood clots in the legs

An operation may cause the blood to slow and coagulate in the veins of your legs, creating a blood clot. Because of this, your doctor may want you to take blood thinners after your procedure. The most common blood thinners prescribed after total joint replacement are the oral medications Xarelto and Aspirin, and the injectable medication Lovenox. Your surgeon will determine the appropriate medication for you and the length of time you will be on the blood thinners.

You will also be asked to wear special white stockings for approximately four weeks following your procedure. These stockings are used to compress the veins in your legs. This helps to keep swelling down and reduce the chance of blood clots.

Signs of blood clots in the arms and legs:

  • Swelling that does not go down when elevated.
  • Pain, tenderness, or warmth in the leg.
  • It is important to note that these signs can occur in either leg.

Prevention of blood clots:

  • Compression pumps.
  • Compression stockings.
  • Blood thinners.
  • Walking.

Pulmonary embolus

An unrecognized blood clot in your legs can break off and go to your lungs. This is a pulmonary embolus, and it is an emergency. Call 911 if you suspect a pulmonary embolus!

Signs of an embolus:

  • Sudden chest pain.
  • Difficult and/or rapid breathing.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Sweating.
  • Confusion.
  • Unexplained fever.

Prevention of a pulmonary embolus:

  • Prevent blood clots in the legs.
  • Recognize a blood clot in the legs and call your doctor immediately.

Infection Signs of infection:

  • Increased swelling, redness, or pain at the incision site.
  • Change in color, amount, odor of any drainage.
  • Increased pain in or around incision.
  • Fever greater than 101° F. Prevention of infection
  • Follow instructions regarding care of your incision.
  • Report any of the above signs immediately to your doctor.
  • Notify your dentist that you have had a total joint replacement.
  • You may be prescribed preventive antibiotics when having dental work or any other potentially contaminating procedures. Your doctor can order these antibiotics for you. This generally continues for two years after your procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions