Frequently Asked Questions

The following are the most commonly asked questions for Dr. Fisher.

Preoperative Questions

How long after surgery will I be incapacitated?
You will be up standing with a walker or crutches within a few hours after or the morning after your surgery. Except for during your actual operation and recovery room time, you are not bedridden at any time.

How long will I be in the hospital?
In some cases, you may go home the same day as surgery. Otherwise, one or two nights in the hospital may be needed.

How long does the surgery take?
Joint replacement surgery takes 35 to 45 minutes. If you are having a revision, it may take an hour, possibly two in rare circumstances.

How many years are joint replacements expected to last?
Research demonstrates that ten years after joint replacement, at least 95 percent of joints are in and working well. After 15 years, that number is still near 95 percent. Many of my patients have had well-functioning implants for over 20 to 25 years.

Will I have to go to a nursing home? What about inpatient rehabilitation hospitals?
A great majority of patients are able to go directly home from the hospital. Your physical therapy will take place at an outpatient facility near your home. Less often, arrangements can be made for home physical therapy.

Will Dr. Fisher personally perform the surgery?
Yes

What are the long-term restrictions after joint replacement?
You may have some short-term restrictions with weight bearing or motion for the first six weeks after surgery. Dr. Fisher will evaluate you and take x-rays about six weeks after your surgery. At that visit, you will be informed about any long-term restrictions. After your recovery, you can walk as far as you want, ride a bike, go up and down stairs, swim, bowl, garden, play doubles tennis, golf, dance, etc.

What are the benefits of joint replacement surgery?
Benefits of joint replacement include relief of pain, increased function and mobility, and improved quality of life.

Postoperative Questions

Will I need someone to help me after surgery?
It will be helpful for you to have someone help you after surgery, but the person does not have to be there 24 hours a day. You will be able to walk with a walker and get yourself around. You will need assistance with meal preparation and doing laundry and most housework. You will not need someone to lift or carry you. If you do not have someone to help you 24 hours a day, please make sure you have someone you can check on you once or twice a day.

How can I tell if the swelling in my legs is excessive or abnormal?
Swelling in your leg is normal after surgery. We suggest that you elevate your leg several times during the day for at least 30 minutes and then for most of the night. Elevating your leg means lying flat or almost flat with your leg elevated so it's higher than your heart. Sitting in a recliner or in a chair with your leg on a footrest is not adequate.

If you have swelling which is accompanied by calf pain, which does not improve or worsens despite elevation, please call Dr. Fisher's office. If you have chest pain or shortness of breath, seek emergency care or call 911.

When do I take off those white stockings (TED hose)?
You may take the stockings off when your swelling is gone. If you do not have much swelling, you should wear them for at least the first two weeks after surgery. The hose can be removed for short periods of time daily so you can wash and for laundering if needed.

How long will I be on the blood thinner after surgery?
You will be on a blood thinner for at least two weeks after surgery. If you have a history of blood clots, you will require blood thinner for a longer period of time, possibly several months.

How do I know if my incision is infected?
An infected incision is exquisitely tender and painful, red and may have swelling and/or yellow or green thick drainage. You may or may not have a fever or chills. Please call Dr. Fisher's office at 317.802.2828 if you suspect an incision infection. 

What do I do about constipation after surgery?
Constipation after surgery, unfortunately, is common and due to decreased activity level, narcotic pain medications and anesthesia. You should take a stool softener daily while you are on narcotic pain medication. Be as active as you can and drink plenty of fluids. A laxative may be used if needed. Prune juice is also an excellent way to stimulate bowel movement.

Will I get addicted to the pain medication?
Becoming addicted to pain medication after surgery is a legitimate concern, but it rarely occurs. Please use the medication as directed and do not exceed the recommended dosage. If your pain is relieved with acetaminophen (Tylenol) and use of ice and or heat, you may not need narcotics. Keeping your pain under control will help you recover more quickly.

Drug addiction can occur when the medication is used beyond what is recommended and used when not really needed. You can tell if you are addicted to a drug if taking and getting the drug starts to become a priority in your life, even more important than your family members or your safety or your job. Your family members or friends may start to notice significant changes in your personality or mood. Also, if you find yourself lying about how much medication you have taken or hiding your use from others, you may be developing an addiction. Please seek help from Dr. Fisher's staff or your family doctor if you or your family think you are experiencing signs of addiction.

When can I drive?
Depending on the surgery, your overall health and which leg is involved determine when you can drive. If it is the left leg, you may be able to drive in two to four weeks. 

When can I start taking my anti-inflammatory medicine again?
You may not resume anti-inflammatory medications until you are off of the blood thinners

When can I go back to work?
The answer to this question varies with your job description. Typical time off work is six weeks. This time allows you to focus on your rehabilitation exercises and allows the muscles to heal and get stronger. However, if you have a sedentary type of job, you may be back at work after two or three weeks, if you feel up to it. Persons with physically demanding jobs may need two months or more off work.

Why do I feel so tired?
Feeling tired after joint replacement surgery is a common complaint. You have just had major surgery and your body is trying to heal itself. Your blood count may also be lower than normal which contributes to fatigue. Narcotics may contribute to tiredness.

Rest during the day if you need to, but not so much that it interferes with your ability to sleep at night. Tiredness accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain or extreme fatigue is not normal and should be evaluated by a doctor.

When can I take a shower or bath?
You may shower as soon as your incision is no longer draining. It is okay if the incision gets wet or soapy in the shower. When you get out of the shower, you may wipe the incision with alcohol or peroxide. Please do not soak your incision under water until it is completely healed.

How long do I need to use this walker or these crutches?
This answer varies from patient to patient. When you leave the hospital, you will receive written instructions regarding your ability to bear weight on your leg. Typically, knee replacement patients use a walker or crutches for the first two to three weeks and then switch to a cane. Hip replacement patients may have restricted weight bearing ordered by Dr. Fisher for two to six weeks. As long as your weight bearing is restricted, you will need to use the crutches or walker. When you are weight bearing as tolerated, again as ordered by Dr. Fisher, you can switch to a cane.