At first your limb will be firmly bandaged, or you may have a splint in place to keep it still. This will give the bone graft, or artificial joint or bone, time to start joining firmly on to the rest of the bone in the limb.
You will probably have a drainage tube in the wound, to remove any fluid that collects in the area of the operation. The fluid and blood drains into a small container attached to the other end of the tube. Drains are usually taken out after 3–4 days. You will also have stitches or staples to close the wound. These are usually taken out about 10–14 days after the operation.
Eating and drinking
For the first few hours after your operation, you probably won’t feel like eating or drinking much, so you’ll be given fluids as a drip into a vein in your hand or arm (an intravenous infusion). A nurse will take it out once you start eating and drinking again.
After your operation you’ll need pain-killing drugs for a few days. These may be given into a vein (intravenously), into the space around your spinal cord (epidural), into a muscle (intramuscularly) or as tablets.
Pain can usually be well-controlled with painkillers. To start with, you will probably need a strong painkiller such as morphine. You may be given intravenous pain relief through a syringe connected to an electronic pump. The pump can be set to give you a continuous dose of painkiller. You may also have a handset with a button you can press if you feel sore. This is called patient-controlled analgesia (PCA). It’s designed so that you can’t have too much painkiller (an overdose), so it’s fine to press it whenever you’re uncomfortable.
If you’ve had surgery on your leg, you may have pain relief using an epidural. A fine tube is put in through your back into the area just outside your spinal cord, called the epidural space. A local anaesthetic can be given continuously into this space to numb the nerves that run to your legs.
Let your nurses and doctors know as soon as possible if you’re in pain. This will help them give you the combination and dose of painkillers that’s right for you.