What to expect after surgery

post surgery

Rehab begins before you even leave the hospital.

After surgery for psoriatic arthritis (PsA), you can look forward to better mobility and function. But first, you will need to stay in the hospital until you are strong enough and ready to go home. Your recovery period can differ depending on the type of procedure. Here is a general guide to the hours or days you will spend in the hospital following your surgery.


Right After Your Surgery: Recovery Room

After your surgery, you will enter a recovery room. The medical staff there will monitor your vital signs while you wake up. They will also make sure you can breathe easily. You may do deep breathing exercises to rid your lungs of mucus.

You will stay in recovery for a few hours. After that, based on the type of surgery you had, you will either go home or be moved to a hospital room.


The First Day

You will probably feel tired for the first day after your surgery. The nurses will give you medicine to relieve your pain and ice to bring down swelling. You may wear tight fitting compression stockings to prevent deep vein thrombosis, a potentially dangerous blood clot in your leg.

You should be able to start walking on the first day after surgery. A physiotherapist will show you how to use crutches or a walker. You will also learn some exercises to start doing on your own.


Days Two to Four

It is important to begin moving your joints soon after surgery to regain your strength and promote healing. A physiotherapist will visit you once or twice a day to teach you exercises. The exercises will keep blood moving through your legs and strengthen the muscles supporting your joints.

To help you regain movement in your legs, you may use a continuous passive motion machine. This is a device that moves the limb for you while you stay in bed. The machine will gently bend and straighten your leg to a specified amount and speed. The machine aids blood flow and keeps your leg up to reduce swelling.

You will begin to walk longer distances. You will also practice climbing stairs. Your physiotherapist will keep working with you.


Going Home

For some less invasive surgery, you may be allowed to go home within a few hours or the next day.  After an open joint replacement, you will need to stay in the hospital for three to four days. 

Before your doctor clears you to go home, you will need to be able to do a few things:

  • Get in and out of bed on your own
  • Walk safely with crutches or a walker
  • Eat, drink, and use the bathroom on your own
  • Move your joint (e.g. bend and straighten your knee)
  • Climb a few stairs
  • Manage your pain with medicine
  • Do your home exercises.

Before your surgery, you should prepare your home with everything you will need for when you return. You will be sent home with instructions to care for your new joint, along with signs of possible problems. Once you are at home, the rest of your recovery and rehabilitation will begin. It can be hard work, but it will be worth the result of more mobility, less pain and greater freedom to do the activities you love