Apart from the specific instructions given to you depending on the type of surgery you have undergone, the basic general instructions that you should follow after your surgery are as follows:
- 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.
- Do not drink alcohol, drive a vehicle, operate any machinery, or sign a legal document for the first 24 hours. The effects of the sedative and/or anesthesia administered during surgery may last that long.
- Use ice packs to control swelling. However, make sure that the ice bag does not leak into the dressing. Ice packs can be used liberally for the first 48 hours and even later, if required.
- Keep the dressing clean and dry to promote wound healing.
- Follow the specific restriction of activity, as advised. Remember, pain is easier to prevent; it’s harder to manage. Rest for a few days after the surgery and keep the operated extremity elevated, above the level of your heart, to control swelling.
- Try to begin physical therapy a day or two after surgery. Exercises in the first week are usually aimed at regaining joint motion. Strengthening exercises are initiated later. Regular exercises are critical for a successful outcome.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks.
- Schedule your follow up appointment with your doctor as advised.
Please consult your doctor 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
- Coldness, numbness, or blanched white or bluish color of the fingers or toes
- Sudden calf pain or shortness of breath
- Chest pain