Patient Education

Getting Prepared for Joint Replacement Surgery

With advances such as minimally invasive surgery, better implant materials, and shorter hospital stays, joint replacement surgery has become a very beneficial procedure. Well over 600,000 hip or knee replacement surgeries are done in the U.S. annually, allowing patients to live fuller, more active lives. If you are one of these patients thinking about getting a hip or knee replacement, there are a few things you may find helpful as you prepare for surgery. By planning ahead, you can increase your chances of a smooth operation, a speedy recovery, and decrease complications after surgery.

Keeping the joint mobile improves your muscle strength and range of motion before surgery and makes post-surgery therapy easier . Your surgeon may recommend home exercises or physical therapy before surgery. Some of these exercises are what you will also be expected to do after surgery. Low impact aerobics, using a stationary bike, and swimming, are a few of the activities that can get you geared up for your new knee or hip. Upper body strength is beneficial since you will be using a walker or crutches after surgery. Getting familiar with using these devices before surgery is also a good idea. Call your doctor if you have pain with exercising.

Although not very common, bacteria can get into your bloodstream from poor dental hygiene or after major dental procedures for periodontal disease or extractions. This can lead to an infection of a joint replacement. Many surgeons recommend that you see your dentist before surgery. If there is any major dental work to be done, it should be completed well before having a joint replacement.

Hospitals do provide gowns to be worn after surgery, but it is a good idea to bring loose fitting comfortable clothing and sturdy non-skid bedroom slippers. Remember, you will be doing some therapy in the hospital hallways after surgery, so come prepared. Many patients feel much more comfortable walking down the hallway in their own clothes and shoes without the fear of having a “wardrobe malfunction” with an open-back hospital gown. Athletic shorts, a knee length gown or robe, and a cotton shirt are some examples of what you should bring with you.

Getting in shape before surgery is extremely beneficial. If you are a smoker, quit. Smoking slows healing and prolongs recovery. If you are overweight, your doctor may ask that you loose some weight before surgery. This is good for your overall health, and it helps to reduce the load on your new hip or knee. Although overweight patients can also benefit from joint replacements, they may have an increased chance of a post operative infection. Also, avoid alcohol two days before surgery.

Plan ahead for your return to home. Consider setting up a “Command Center” that will allow you to function at home with limited mobility. You should have easy access to your TV remote, phone, reading materials, and medicines. If you do the cooking, consider freezing some food ahead of time to last a week or two. Having a bench in your shower and installing handrails can also be helpful. Arrange for a family member or friend to stay with you while you recover.

Joint replacement surgery is an elective procedure, so take advantage of this and plan ahead. The more planning you do before surgery, the smoother your recovery will be.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.