hip and knee care

Post-Surgery Care

Post-Surgery Care in Los Angeles

What to expect after hip & knee surgery at Adventist Health White Memorial

Once in the orthopedic unit after your surgery, your nurse will check on you frequently to monitor your vital signs, circulation, incision, level of consciousness and pain.

You will receive an IV fluids and antibiotics for at least 24 hours. It is important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent blood clots, elevated temperature and constipation.

A catheter may be inserted to drain your urine. It will be removed before you are discharged.


Nausea after anesthesia is very common. It is important to inform the nursing staff if you are nauseous so they can give you medication to help manage your symptoms. Once your nausea has passed, you can start eating ice chips and taking small sips of water, then get back to eating a regular diet.

Our post-operative diet tips:

  • Increased protein helps assist in healing
  • Increased iron helps your blood count recover (increasing energy)
  • Fiber and fluids help avoid constipation

Pain management

Our priority at Adventist Health White Memorial is managing your pain. There are different ways that may help to control it. Speak to your doctor to plan your pain management.

Techniques include:

  • Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA): A pump releases medication through your IV. You control the pump by pressing a button to manage your pain. It is set to deliver small amounts of medication at intervals to avoid an overdose. Only you are allowed to press the button.
  • Intravenous or intramuscular injections: Injections are given every two to four hours as needed for pain. You MUST let the nurse know you are in pain, since the injections are not scheduled.
  • Pills: You’ll usually start with a mild narcotic to help control your pain.
  • Pain scale: This helps you describe the level of pain you are experiencing. It is based on a scale of 0-10. It is our goal to keep your pain level at a four or below, or whatever is acceptable to you.

Pain tips

Some pain is normal after major surgery, but it should not get in the way of activities such as deep breathing, turning in bed or progressing in your activities.

Let your nurse know before your pain gets worse. It is easier to manage pain before it gets worse. If the pain medication is not working, let the nurse and your doctor know.

Physical therapy & mobility

Physical therapy may begin on the day of surgery or on the first day after. You’ll have physical therapy twice each day. The physical therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen your legs and improve your walk. Occupational therapists will work with you on activities of daily living such as using the bathroom, bathing, dressing and grooming.


To prevent pneumonia, you will do breathing exercises (10 breaths every hour) with an incentive spirometer, which measures your breath volume.

You will have foot pumps or leg squeezers to prevent blood clots.

You may use a walker, raised commode (portable toilet) or other equipment to assist in your daily activities.

Discharge plan

Most patients are in the medical center for one or two days before they go home. Someone responsible needs to drive you home. You will receive written discharge instructions about medications, physical therapy, activities, etc. Take this notebook with you.

When you are ready to go home, a case manager will be able to help you regarding discharge management, to make sure that your transition home is smooth.

Follow-up care

You will need to see your surgeon for a follow-up appointment after surgery.