Joint Replacement - In Hospital Care and Treatments

Joint Replacement - In Hospital Care and Treatments



You will have a regular diet unless you are having nausea. Protein, calories, and fluids will help you heal and recover more quickly.


IV fluids and antibiotics

  • You will receive fluids into your veins through the IV after surgery. The IV will stay in place until you are eating and drinking fluids after surgery.
  • When you are able to eat, your IV will be capped off, so you will not need to have the tubing attached at all times.
  • You can expect receive antibiotics to prevent infection for the first day after surgery. Most patients will not be given antibiotics to take at home.


Incisions and drains

  • Your incision length will vary, based on the surgery you have:
    • Posterior total hip - 8 inches or more
    • Anterior total hip - 6 inches or more
    • Total knee - 6 to 10 inches
  • During surgery, the doctor may have placed a drain. Drains are tubes connected to a collection device outside your body. The drain lets extra blood and fluid drain out of the wound so the incision can heal. The fluid will be removed and measured by the nursing staff. Your doctor will decide when your drain should come out.
  • Your incision may have staples, sutures, absorbable sutures or glue. 
  • If you have sutures or staples, they will be removed in 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Your incision will be covered with a dressing.
  • Your nurses will teach you and your caregiver how to care for your incision at home.


Prevent blood clots

During and after surgery, your limited ability to walk and move around can cause your blood circulation to be sluggish or slow and blood clots can develop. To prevent blood clots, your treatment may include:

  • Leg exercises to promote circulation.
  • Compression wraps on your legs. The wraps attach to a small pump that pumps air in and out to increase the circulation in your legs.
  • Medicine, called an anti-coagulant or blood thinner.


Bed exercises in the hospital

As soon as you are awake and able, start the 3 exercises you practiced before your surgery:

  • Ankle pumping
  • Quad setting
  • Gluteal sets

Each of these exercises plays a role in your recovery.

Do each exercises slowly. Repeat each exercise 10 times every hour when you are awake. If you need help, the nurse or therapist will go over the instructions with you.


Breathing exercises

  • Use your breathing exerciser (incentive spirometer) 10 times and cough every hour as directed.
  • Or, do deep breathing and coughing exercises every hour to prevent pneumonia. Raise the head of the bed up as far as you are able or sit up straight in a chair. Have tissue and a waste bag close.
    • Deep breathing: 
      • Breathe in deeply through your nose and mouth. Your abdomen will rise as your lungs fill with air.
      • Hold the breath for a few seconds. 
      • Purse your lips, like you were going to whistle. Let the air out. 
      • Repeat the deep breathing 10 to 15 times and cough after each group of 5 breaths.
    • Coughing: 
      • To cough, open your mouth and take a deep breath in. Cough 1 or 2 strong coughs from deep in your lungs.
      • Cover your mouth with a tissue as you cough. Spit any mucus that you cough up into the tissue.


© 2017 – July 30, 2020, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

This handout is for informational purposes only. Talk with your doctor or health care team if you have any questions about your care. For more health information, call the Library for Health Information at 614-293-3707 or email: