After surgery, you’ll be taken to a recovery room where your blood pressure, oxygen levels and heart rate will be continuously monitored by our specialist team. They will also be able to give you pain relief if you need it once you come round from your operation.

  • Once you’re awake from any general anaesthetic that was given and any pain is controlled, you’ll be taken back to your room. Your blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels will continue to be monitored and you may have an oxygen mask if necessary. Your leg and wound will be checked reguarly.
  • You will have compression pumps on your legs to reduce the risk of blood clots
  • Your family/companion will have been contacted to let them know you’re back from your operation so they can arrange to come and visit you
  • Let the nursing staff know if you’re feeling nauseous, are in pain, or if you have any other concerns
  • A physiotherapist will show you how to begin your exercise programme including circulation exercises.

Circulation exercises

Carrying out these exercises as soon as possible after your operation can help to prevent blood clots:

  • Ankle exercises
    Ankle exercises should be done every hour for approximately 5 minutes or longer if possible. This helps maintain the circulation in your calf muscles. If you experience any pain or tenderness in the calf please let the nursing staff know immediately. If you’ve had a spinal anaesthetic, you may not be able to do this until it has worn off
  • Deep breathing exercises
    This helps to keep your chest as clear as possible. Take three or four deep breaths. Try to breathe as deeply as possible and after the last breath try to ‘huff’ out the air. This may cause you to cough and, in some cases, bring up some phlegm which is normal after an anaesthetic

Day 1


  • To get up and walk around
  • To carry out your exercises

Your step-by-step recovery

In the early days, you’ll need to take things easy and accept any help you are offered. Looking after yourself by eating a healthy diet and following your exercise programme will help you to gradually build up your strength so that you can get back to your everyday activities as soon as possible.

You may find that it helps to keep track of how you are feeling and record your goals so that you can mark each step of your recovery

The day after surgery

  • One of our nursing team will help you to wash and dress and help you into a chair to have breakfast
  • You’ll be encouraged to do your exercises
  • You’ll be given an X-ray
  • You’ll be able to walk to the toilet using your crutches/walking frame
  • Your bandages will be changed and any drains removed
  • You’ll be given appropriate pain relief and any other drugs you normally take


In most cases, you’ll be helped to walk either the same day or the day after your operation. You will be shown how to use your crutches and the correct way to walk.

The aim is to help you regain independence with the crutches as quickly as possible. However, everyone is different so don’t worry if your progress is different from other people’s.


The physiotherapy team on the ward will start you on a programme of exercises. You can help your own recovery by carrying these out at least three times per day.

It’s also very important that you continue to do your exercises when you leave hospital in order to get the very best result possible.

Goals for Day 1

  • Carry out your exercises three times a day
  • To get out of bed and walk with a frame/sticks
  • To have lunch and supper out of bed in a chair
  • To walk up and down stairs

Top tips for improving recovery in hospital:

  • Follow any advice from your healthcare team
  • Try to stay positive about your recovery
  • Drink plenty of fluids and make healthy food choices
  • Practise your exercises as often as possible
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t make progress straight away
  • Set yourself small realistic goals each day
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for information to be repeated

Day 2

You’ll be helped to wash yourself and continue with becoming more mobile. You’ll also be encouraged to carry out your exercises and be shown how to:

  • Get in and out of bed
  • Sit correctly
  • Get up from your chair and the toilet

You’ll have an X-ray to check the joint replacement if this hasn’t already been carried out.

Goals for Day 2

  • To wash and dress yourself
  • To walk around without anyone helping you
  • To go up and down stairs safely
  • To carry out your exercises

Going up and down stairs

Going up stairs can be done safely one step at a time by:

  • Taking a step up with the leg that hasn’t been operated on
  • Then taking a step up with the operated leg

Going down stairs can be done safely one step at a time by:

  • Putting your crutch or stick on the step below
  • Taking a step with the operated leg
  • Following this with a step by the leg that hasn’t been operated on

Day 3

Once you can wash and dress yourself, you’ll be encouraged to get up and move around and do your exercises. Further practice climbing stairs will be arranged, if necessary.


You’ll be in hospital for three nights. During your hospital stay, you will need to meet several goals before you are discharged home:

    • Walk independently with your crutches/walking aid
    • Get in/out of bed and on/off the chair/toilet by yourself
    • Be able to get up/down stairs (if required when you are back at home)
    • Have an X-ray of your new joint
    • Have all the equipment/help necessary at home

A pharmacist will visit you on the ward during your stay with us. They will check that all your usual medicines are prescribed for you and that all the correct medicines you need after your operation, including any painkillers, are prescribed as well. They will tell you about the new medicines that are prescribed for you and will be very happy to answer any queries you have about your medicines.

You’ll also be shown how to gradually increase your exercise programme. You’ll need to use your crutches for up to six weeks.

Going home

Before you leave hospital you’ll be given a follow-up appointment, advice about painkillers and a telephone number to call if you have any questions or concerns

  • Please arrange for someone to collect you and stay with you for a while
  • Make sure you have the following:
  • Discharge letter for your GP practice
  • Prosthesis record to keep
  • Outpatient appointment (around x weeks after surgery)

Getting in and out of a car 

  • Ask your driver to push the seat all the way back and recline it slightly
  • If needed use a small cushion to make the seat level
  • Putting a plastic bag on the seat can help you slide and turn into position
  • Back up to the car until you feel it against the back of your legs
  • Carefully lower yourself onto the seat, keeping your operated leg straight out in front of you as you sit down
  • Slide across the seat towards the handbrake to give you sufficient room to get your legs into the car
  • Turn towards the dashboard, reclining backwards as you lift your operated leg into the car
  • Remove the plastic bag, make yourself comfortable and put on your seatbelt

To get out of the car reverse this procedure.

Three months onwards

  • Walking: you should be able to walk without aids, and without limping
  • Stairs: you should be able to climb stairs normally
  • Kneeling: do this on the operated leg first and get up using the other leg first; this means the unoperated leg does the work
  • Travelling by bus/train/car: try to make sure you have adequate leg room
  • Air travel: avoid long haul flights (over 4 hours) for the first three months after your operation
  • Sport:
    • Ask your physiotherapist before resuming any sport
    • Golf: avoid a full swing for at least 12 weeks (you should be able to manage a half swing at around 8-12 weeks)
    • Cycling: avoid this for the first 6 weeks and take care when getting on or off
    • Swimming: once the wound has healed, you can start to swim but be careful not to slip/fall around the pool and avoid breast stroke for the first 6 weeks
  • Shopping: avoid carrying heavy bags and balance them evenly
  • Gardening: you can begin light gardening around three months after surgery but use a kneeler rather than squatting near the ground. You may find some long handled tools are useful but avoid heavy digging
  • Housework:
    • avoid being on your hands and knees – use a mop/broom
    • Sit whenever possible to peel vegetables/wash up/etc
  • Above all, listen to your body and don’t overdo anything

Fortius Joint Replacement Centre
at Bupa Cromwell Hospital

164 -178 Cromwell Road


Appointments: +44 (0)203 693 2119

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