Specific instructions may be given to you depending on the type of surgery you have undergone. Here are basic general instructions that you should be ready to follow after your surgery:
- Take pain relieving and other medications as advised. Pain relieving medication should be taken with food. After the first 48 hours of surgery, take the pain medication only when needed.
- A limited supply of opioid pain medications may be provided but will not be refilled.
- A blood thinner (eg Aspirin, lovenox, coumadin, Xarelto, Plavix) is usually prescribed after most procedures to reduce the risk for blood clots. Use as instructed.
- Do not drink alcohol, drive a vehicle, operate any machinery, or sign a legal document in the days after the surgery. The effects of the sedative and/or the anesthesia administered during the surgery may last for at least the first 24-48 hours or longer after surgery.
- Use ice packs or cryotherapy, if provided, to control swelling. Apply ice packs for no more than 20-30 minutes every two hours when awake. Applying ice for longer duration can cause skin irritation or even frost bite. However, make sure that the ice bag does not leak into the dressing.
- Cold therapy should be used for the first 48 hours and even later, if helpful.
- Follow specific restrictions of activity, as advised. Remember that it is easier to prevent developing pain rather than managing it once it has already developed.
- Rest for a few days after the surgery and keep the operated extremity elevated, above the level of your heart, to control swelling.
- Keep the dressing clean and dry to promote wound healing. Change the dressing as directed.
- Keep a splint or cast on if one is applied, unless directed.
- If a prescription is provided, plan to begin physical therapy as instructed after the surgery. Exercises in the first week are usually aimed at regaining joint motion and muscle activity. Strengthening exercises are initiated later.
- Regular exercises and periodic movement are essential for a successful outcome and to reduce risks for blood clots.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water or non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks.
- Schedule your follow-up appointment with your doctor as advised if not already appointed.
Please consult Dr. Woolf immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Increased drainage from the incision
- Increased redness around the operated area
- Increased swelling that does not decrease with ice and elevation
- Foul odor
- Fever greater than 101°F
Call 911 or go to an Emergency Center if you experience any of the following or if you are concerned about your medical condition after surgery:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden calf pain
- Changes in mental status or alertness
- Unexplained numbness or weakness (ie not from the anesthesia received or a nerve block)
- Sudden changes in speech or vision
- Severe headache
- Sudden dizziness or problems with balance
- Coldness, numbness or blanched white or bluish color of the fingers or toes
Please let our office know about this as soon as you are stable and can provide an update.