Managing Your Pain After Joint Replacement Surgery

Managing Your Pain After Joint Replacement Surgery

William P. Barrett, MD

At POA, we use multimodal pain management for your joint replacement. This begins with preoperative medications given in the pre-op area, spinal anesthesia, and use of regional and local blocks about your hip or knee. Following your surgery pain is managed during your overnight stay by the nursing staff at the VMC joint center. This consists of using acetaminophen every 8 hours, anti-inflammatory medications twice a day and non- narcotic pain meds or if needed narcotic pain medication. Additionally ice and elevation are utilized to decrease your discomfort.

Once you go home it is important to stay on the schedule outlined by your provider as noted below:
-Stay on a schedule of taking a dose of pain medication every 3-4 hours for your first 48 hours after arriving home.
– After that time, as pain allows, you may begin to spread out the time between each dose of pain medication starting in one hour increments.
– Be sure to take your pills with food to help prevent nausea.

Other ways to control pain:
– Tylenol taken every 8 hours has been shown to decrease pain.  DO NOT exceed 3000mg of Tylenol in a 24-hour period. Be particularly careful of your Tylenol dose if currently taking Norco.
– Controlling the swelling in the knee/hip is the cornerstone to controlling your pain.
– Ice and comfortably elevate your operative leg above your heart level while you are lying flat on your back.  This will allow gravity to pull the fluid/swelling from your leg, getting it to your heart as your heart is responsible for getting rid of the extra fluid. Ice / cold packs should be used for 20-30 minutes at a time 5-6 times a day.
– Do not sit with your leg dangling down for more than 20-30 minutes at a time.   In this position gravity is now working against you by pulling more fluid/swelling into the operative knee and lower leg.
– Return to using crutches or walker if you have recently tried to transition off of these walking devices.
– Cut back on activity level particularly if you have tried to increase your activity in the last day or so.

Dr. Barrett is an orthopedic surgeon who performs over 500 joint replacement surgeries annually. For more information about total hip and knee replacements, contact Proliance Orthopedic Associates at 425.656.5060.