|Back to Main Print This Page Email to a Friend|
Total elbow arthroplasty - discharge; Endoprosthetic elbow replacement - discharge
You had surgery to replace your elbow joint with artificial joint parts (prosthetics).
The surgeon made an incision (cut) in the back of your upper or lower arm and removed damaged tissue and parts of the bones. The surgeon then put in the artificial joint in place and closed with sutures (stitches).
You were given pain medicine and learned how to manage swelling around your new joint.
Your elbow area may feel warm and tender for 2-4 weeks after surgery.
For the first week after surgery, you may have a soft splint on your arm to hold your elbow in place. Some people need to use a harder splint or brace that has a hinge when the incision has healed
You will need help with every chores such as shopping, bathing, making meals, and housework for up to 6 weeks. You may want to make some changes around your home so it is easier for you to take care of yourself.
You will need to wait 4-6 weeks before you can drive. Your doctor or physical therapist will tell you when it is okay.
You may be able to start using your elbow as soon as 12 weeks after surgery. Full recovery can take up to a year.
The amount you can use your arm and when you can start using it will depend on the condition of your elbow. Be sure to ask your doctor what limits you may have.
Your doctor will have you go to physical therapy to help you gain strength and use of your arm. If you have a splint, you may need to wait a few weeks to start therapy.
After the first week, you may be able to use your splint only while sleeping. Ask your doctor if this okay. You will need to avoid carrying anything or pulling items even when your splint is off.
By 6 weeks, you should be able to slowly increase daily activities to help make your elbow and arm stronger.
By 12 weeks, you should be able to lift more weight. Ask your doctor what other activities you can do at this point.
Make sure you know the proper way to use your elbow before you start any activity or move your arm for any reason. Ask your doctor if you can:
The stitches on your wound will be removed about 1 week after surgery. Keep your incision and the dressing clean and dry for 2 weeks. You may change the dressing every day if you like.
Do NOT shower until after your follow-up appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will tell you when you can begin taking showers. When you do start showering again, let the water run over the incision, but do not let the water beat down on it. Do NOT scrub. Wash your incision gently and pat it dry.
Do NOT soak the wound in a bathtub, hot tub, or swimming pool.
Pain is normal after elbow replacement surgery. It should get better over time.
Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medicine. Get it filled when you go home so that you have it when you need it. Take your pain medicine when you start having pain so pain doesn't get too bad.
Ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory medicine may also help. Ask your doctor what other medicines are safe to take with your pain medicine.
Do NOT drive if you are taking narcotic pain medicine. This medicine may make you too sleepy to drive safely.
Call your doctor or nurse if:
Surgical options for the arthritic elbow. Gallo RA, Payatakes A, Sotereanos DG. J Hand Surg [Am]. 2008 May-Jun;33(5):746-59. Review. PMID: 18590859
Throckmorton TW. Shoulder and elbow arthroplsty. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 12.
On a mission to heal body, mind and spirit