You’ve just scheduled or are considering a total knee or total hip replacement surgery. Congratulations! You’re on your way to a pain-free joint and a more active lifestyle. Good presurgical preparation is key to a successful outcome. There are several things you can start doing now to help your journey run more smoothly.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
Strengthen Your Body
Spending some time to improve your physical strength and conditioning prior to surgery will help speed up your recovery post-surgery. Low impact aerobic exercises, like a stationary bike or pool exercises, are ideal, along with some basic exercises to strengthen your glutes, hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings. If you need more specific guidance, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist to design a specific "pre-hab" program to get you ready for surgery. Keep in mind that some discomfort with these exercises is normal, but you should try to avoid any that cause intense pain.
Eliminate Known Health Obstacles
It’s important that a body is as strong as possible both inside and out prior to surgery. There are two things within your control that will directly affect the success of your surgical outcome:
- Eliminate or Reduce Smoking: Smoking deprives the body of oxygen, and a high blood oxygen level helps a body heal more quickly. Smoking can interfere with healing because it reduces the amount of oxygen in the body. Investigate ways to eliminate or reduce smoking prior to surgery.
- Weight Loss: Extra weight puts extra stress on the joints, and that means extra stress on your new joint implant. That means the new joint implant is at greater risk for postoperative injury and/or delayed healing. Every pound lost before surgery will relieve stress on that new joint. Your new joint needs to stay in motion to heal correctly, and it will be easier to stay active the closer you are to a normal weight range for you.
Prepare Your Home
There are several things to consider when preparing your home for use during your recovery.
- Remove any clutter and throw rugs in your walking areas. For wall-to-wall carpeting, ensure any bumpy areas are removed or avoided.
- Place nightlights in walking areas that are poorly lit.
- Restrict or restrain pets in some way after you return from the surgical center. Enthusiastic pets can jump on you or get under your feet and throw you off balance.
- Be aware that active small children can unintentionally cause you to lose your balance.
- If your bedroom is on an upper level of the home, consider setting up a temporary sleeping area on the same level as the kitchen and a bathroom.
- Identify a strong, supportive chair to sit on during your recovery period. Use a chair that keeps your hips level with your knees. Ideally, the chair will have sturdy armrests to provide support when raising or lowering yourself.
Ask for Help
Getting the right people in place before and after surgery will provide peace of mind. No matter what physical condition a person is in preoperatively, everyone who undergoes joint replacement surgery needs some level of assistance after returning home. Think about who will be able to support you both before and after surgery. It’s very common for friends and family members to “take shifts” helping due to works schedules and different skill sets. Some caregivers may be able to provide meals and do light chores, some can run errands, and others may be able to do more physically demanding tasks.
Prior to surgery, it is very important let your doctor know all the medications you are taking. That includes natural therapies, like herbs, oils, and vitamins. There are some medications and supplements that will need to be discontinued for a short time prior to surgery, often to prevent bleeding risk. However, there are some medications you will need to continue taking. The most effective postoperative pain management plan can only be done safely and effectively when your doctor knows about all your medications and supplements.
For more details about how to best prepare for your upcoming surgery or for more information, check out our Knee + Hip Joint Replacement Specialists. They are passionate about delivering exceptional specialized care to help you Put Your Life in Motion!