Mercy Medical Center Sioux City

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to prepare myself for surgery?
Read all Mercy Total Joint Care Center patient education material. Talk with your family doctor and orthopaedic surgeon about any questions or concerns you have. Get yourself in the best health possible: stop smoking; eat a varied, balanced diet; limit your intake of caffeine, alcohol, and fatty foods; make sure you have up-to-date immunizations and mammogram. Before surgery, you can begin physical therapy exercises to build your strength. Practice cough-and-deep-breathing exercises, calf-muscle pumping, Spirometer exercises, and relaxation techniques. Before surgery is the time to gather supplies you will need for your recovery and make arrangements for your absence from work and home.

When will I be able to take a shower after surgery?
You will have a special occlusive dressing that will allow you to shower about two days after your operation.

How much assistance will I need after surgery?
We recommend that a family member or close friend serve as a "coach" to assist with your recovery. Your coach can attend a class with you to learn how he or she can help with your recover.

How do I obtain adaptive devices, such as a walker, cane and shower chair?
Before you go home, our staff will review your needs for adaptive devices and suggest those that will be most useful to you. Your family may already have some of these items at home. If not, certain local non-profit organizations may be resources for obtaining adaptive devices. Mercy Medical Center and local businesses also offer adaptive devices for purchase or rental.

Which type of shoes is best for me?
Choose low-heeled, non-skid shoes that are comfortably wide and long and provide good support. Look for shoes with laces or Velcro closures as they can easily be adjusted for any swelling after surgery. Do not wear slippers.

How much should I walk after surgery?
Gradually increase the time and distance you walk each day. Begin slowly. Add a half block or so each day, depending on how well you tolerate the exercise. If you become fatigued or short of breath or experience pain, reduce the time and distance you walk. If you were not accustomed to walking a mile before surgery, you should not expect to walk a mile shortly after surgery. The tortoise philosophy works best: a slow and steady gait wins the race in the end.

Where should I walk?
Weather and convenience will influence whether you walk indoors or outdoors. When weather permits, you can walk outdoors near your home, in your neighborhood, at a school or on a nature trail. When weather is inclement, malls, skyways and indoor tracks are good walking sites.

When can I expect to return to work after total joint replacement surgery?
Recovery time depends on the nature of your work. If you have a relatively sedentary job, such as office work, you may gradually return in about four weeks. At first, you will work half days. If you have a physically demanding job, such as construction or manufacturing work, it may be six weeks before you can return to your position. Your surgeon will determine your readiness to return to work based on your recovery progress and X-ray results.

When can I start to drive?
If you had surgery on your left hip or knee, you may be ready to drive two weeks after your operation, but only if you feel confident about driving and no longer are taking narcotic medication. If you had surgery on your right hip or knee, you will not be able to drive until strength has returned to that leg and your reflexes are sufficiently quick.