Orthopedics is a field of study involved with prevention or correction of the body’s main structure, which includes the muscles, bones, and joints. Orthopedic surgeons have many years of training in the surgical, medical, or physical treatment and/or rehabilitation of the body’s complex musculoskeletal system. There are many specialties that an orthopedic physician may have extensive training in such as joint replacement, sports medicine, ankle, shoulder, or knee reconstruction, foot issues and scoliosis or other diseases of the spine.
NOTE: The following links have notable discussions and descriptive subject matter that covers most of the clinical issues we see in our offices. The links open to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Upon deciding with your doctor that surgery is the next step for you, learning what to expect from the procedure and deciding on an aftercare plan will give you the best results. Being physically and mentally prepared for the surgery is one of the most crucial steps to successful results. Understanding the steps taken before, during, and after surgery and your part in the process will benefit you. You will have less problems and you will recover quicker.
Working with Your Doctor
Prior to surgery, a complete physical examination is performed by your doctor to ensure you don’t have any conditions that could conflict with the procedure or the final result. Blood testing and x-rays are routine tests that will usually be performed a week prior to any major surgery.
If you are taking any medications prescribed by a family physician, be sure to discuss them with your doctor to determine if any should be discontinued prior to surgery.
Weight loss prior to surgery can greatly improve your results and decrease your chances of complications.
To reduce bleeding during surgery, any anti-inflammatory medication such as warfarin, aspirin, or any drug that increases the risk of bleeding will need to be stopped one week prior to your surgery.
Smoking can cause serious complications following surgery, including failure of the wound to heal and infection. Your physician may post pone or cancel your surgery if you fail to stop smoking prior to surgery.
Having bladder, gum, bowel, and tooth problems treated prior to surgery can minimize risks of infection.
Eat a healthy diet, and add-on a daily multivitamin with iron.
If you have any infections, let your doctor know. Until the infection has cleared up, surgery cannot proceed.
- You will need someone that can bring you home after surgery. For at least the next 24 hours, you cannot drive.
- Do not eat or drink on your trip home.
- Vomiting and nausea is often the result of the combination of food, car motion, and anaesthesia. Once at home, do not eat until you are hungry. Eat a small meal and avoid greasy foods for the first 24 hours.
- If your surgery was on an extremity (arm, hand, elbow, leg or knee), be sure to elevate the extremity and use ice as directed by your doctor.
- Pain medicine should be taken as directed by your doctor. When you become uneasy, but prior to unbearable pain, begin the pain medication. Do not hesitate to take the medication until the pain is unbearable otherwise you will have trouble keeping the pain under control.
For the first 48 hours following surgery:
- Do not drive a car or operate any machinery that requires your full concentration.
- Do not drink alcohol or take any recreational drugs.
- Do not sign any legal papers or make any major life
- Have someone stay with you or check on you and help with
some of your daily activities.
Taking care of your incision(s):
- Keep your dressing clean and clean.
- Sponge bathing is probable the easiest way to keep your
- If you shower, first wrap the area with an absorbent terry
cloth towel. Cover this with a large plastic bag and tape the top. Keep the spray away from the extremity and never submerse the extremity in water. Dry your entire body off before taking the bag off.
- Unless you are instructed otherwise by your physician, after 72 hours you can remove the dressing around your extremity.
- Some bloody drainage in and around the dressing is normal. Cleanse the area with warm soapy water and blot dry.
- Report any abnormalities around the incisions to our office. It is normal to have some mild to moderate redness around the incisions and you may even notice some clear or even blood tinged drainage from the area for the first few days.
When to call:
Please notify us if any of the following symptoms occur. If your symptoms increase suddenly and you do not hear from us within a reasonable amount of time, report to the nearest emergency room for evaluation and treatment.
- Increasing drainage from the incisions.
- Increasing redness.
- Foul odor.
- Increasing swelling accompanied by pain.
- Fever over 101 degrees (take your temperature twice to
- Increasing pain not relieved with rest, elevation, ice and
the pain medication.
- Coldness, numbness or a sustained blue color to your
- Sudden onset of calf pain.
- Sudden onset of shortness of breath.
- Chest pain.
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