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Recovering from Knee or Hip Replacement Surgery

Orthopedic RecoveryExplore how Cone Health helps you improve your recovery after joint replacement surgery.

In the Hospital

Medication will help you minimize pain following the operation. Your doctor will tell you when it’s OK to get out of bed. Move around as much as you safely can, but always ask a nurse for help first.

Your physician may recommend leg and foot wraps, elastic support stockings, and aspirin or prescription blood thinners to improve circulation.


Within a day of surgery, you’ll begin physical therapy to increase circulation and reduce stiffness and swelling. A therapist will teach simple exercises you can perform by yourself in bed or in a chair, and you’ll get help starting to walk.

Physical and occupational therapists also will guide you in planning for your transition to home or a care facility. You’ll learn how to safely move around and complete basic daily tasks like bathing and dressing with help.


Expect to leave the hospital one to three days after joint replacement surgery. Your care team will help you decide the best place to continue recovering: your home, an inpatient rehabilitation center, or a skilled nursing facility such as Edgewood Place or Penn Nursing Center. If you return home, a family member or friend must stay with you for up to three weeks and help with activities of daily living. You also can ask us for a list of home health agencies and providers of private duty care, which assists with housekeeping, transportation and personal grooming.

At Home

Continue physical therapy and occupational therapy as an outpatient, and gradually increase your activity. Follow your care team’s instructions on moving around safely, preventing constipation, wearing support stockings, changing bandages and caring for your incision.

When to Call Your Doctor

Most people recover without complication, but contact your physician if:

  • Your temperature is above your normal or 98.7 degrees
  • You experience shortness of breath, have chest pain, or feel pain or tenderness in your calves
  • You have a sudden increase in pain or an unusual feeling that doesn’t go away when you move around
  • Your pain worsens and/or you experience loss of use in the leg that was operated on

Wellness Matters

  • How Can Addressing COVID-19 Health Risks Improve Joint Health?

    According to John L. Graves, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Greensboro and member of the Cone Health Medical and Dental Staff, actively reducing COVID-19 risks like obesity with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes have many upsides. People can improve the health of their bones, tendons, ligaments and joints, reduce chances of surgical complications and improve overall health.
    September 29, 2020
  • What to Do If You Have Osteoarthritis

    What to Do if You Have Osteoarthritis

    According to Joshua Landau, MD, a Greensboro orthopedic surgeon and member of the Cone Health Medical and Dental staff, while there is no cure for osteoarthritis, symptoms can be managed.
    September 18, 2020
  • Returning to Sports After Knee Surgery

    Returning to Sports After Knee Surgery

    While the time it can take to return to sports after knee surgery varies, it is important to follow doctor’s orders, according to Stephen Lucey, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Greensboro and member of the Cone Health Medical and Dental Staff.
    September 14, 2020