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Healthwise: Joint Surgery Recovery

May 2, 2012

More than 800,000 people have joint replacement surgery each year. At Martha Jefferson Hospital, knees, hips, and shoulders are the most common of these replacements. Surgery is only the beginning though when it comes to getting your joints back to normal.

Some Martha Jefferson patients enjoyed a brunch just a few days after surgery - before getting discharged - where they learned the signs and symptoms of potential complications, and what to look for when they finally get home. Angie Honeycutt, Orthopedic Navigator at Martha Jefferson Hospital, shares some of the knowledge these patients learned.

"[They learned] things to call the doctor about, like signs of infection and fever and finding out when to follow back up with their surgeon for their follow-up appointment," she said.

Another piece of information the patients learn is exactly which medications to take, and which ones to avoid. Health officials say not knowing this vital information could be detrimental to a patient's health.

"If the patients go to the dentist, they will have to take antibiotics before the dental appointment because they can spread bacteria from the mouth into their new joint replacement," said Honeycutt.

In addition to looking for signs and symptoms of potential complications, health care workers say patients should also stay active as it will build their muscle strength and mobility.

"They should do a lot of physical therapy and a lot of exercises on their own. We do encourage them to get up and move around every hour during the day," said Honeycutt.

This activity could help them walk down the road to recovery much faster and get back to a pain free lifestyle in a matter of months.

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