Medically Reviewed by Thomas DiStefano, MD
You can’t handle your normal daily tasks. There may be significant pain, bad enough to keep you awake at night. You tried nonsurgical treatments without success. Might even be suffering some side effects from medication. Then…
“Well, I think we to need consider total joint replacement,” says your Orthopedic Specialist. And so begins the journey to a new knee or hip that will eliminate your discomfort and pain, returning you to a more normal life. And yet, there’s much to do before the day of surgery.
“Every total knee joint replacement surgery is unique,” says McLeod Orthopedic Surgeon Thomas DiStefano, MD. “But preparing for every surgery has many things in common.”
QUESTIONS TO START
Let’s start with some questions you and your surgeon might discuss:
- What technique does the surgeon plan to use? Most joint replacement surgery is done with small incisions. For the hip, some surgeon like to enter from the front (anterior) others from the side or back. Some techniques cut muscle; others, don’t.
- How many joint replacements has your surgeon done using this particular technique? When it comes to this type of surgery, experience counts.
- For the given technique, what are the expected outcomes and complication rates? Any surgery has some potential complications that you should know to enable you to make an informed decision.
- How much pain will I have? Significant improvements have been made in managing pain, especially with a focus on avoiding opioid dependence.
- How long is your replacement joint expected to last? Today’s implants are designed to last anywhere from 10-30 years, depending on the wear and tear you put them through.
- Will I need physical therapy during recovery? Many hip replacement patients do not need physical therapy. Knee replacement patients often need therapy but it’s usually on an outpatient basis.
NEXT STEP PRE-HAB
Every needs to prepare for the surgery. Here’s a few items for your to-do list:
- Do you need to lose some weight? Ideally, you should have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or less. Find out your BMI here. With a BMI over 30, your surgeon may tell you to lose weight before surgery.
- Exercise before surgery — strengthening your upper body – will make it easier to use crutches or a walker during recovery. Exercising leg muscles before surgery will help maintain strength after surgery.
- If you smoke, try to quit or at least, cut down. Smoking affects blood circulation and can slow recovery.
OTHER ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
You need to prepare your home and identify people who can help you after the surgery. Find more tips here.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Harvard Medical School, AARP