Medically reviewed by Rodney Alan, M.D. McLeod Orthopaedics
It finally hits home. You’re sitting with your family physician, pain management or orthopedic specialist and you hear the words, “You need a joint replacement.” Certainly your knee or hip has given you daily bouts of pain and limited your activity. You want to feel better. But now – OMG! — you face the reality of hospitalization, surgery, rehab and recovery. “What a patient does BEFORE the surgery is as important as what follows,” says McLeod Orthopedic Specialist Dr. Rodney Alan. “Mental, emotional and physical preparation sets the stage for successful surgery and a faster return to normal life activities.”
Make Sure You’re Comfortable with the Decision
Trust in your surgeon is important. If you have any doubts, seek a second option from another Orthopedic Specialist. If you don’t have a surgeon yet, here are some tips on finding the right specialist for your hip or knee replacement.
Another important element to your successful surgery is the hospital where the procedure will occur. Find out the hospital’s blood loss and infection rates over the past year. A number of third-party organizations provide hospital ratings or comparisons that may be useful.
Lifestyle Changes Will Help
Excess weight and smoking can hurt the chances of a successful outcome. In the weeks before surgery, try to quit smoking and bring your body weight closer to a normal level.
Exercise to build your upper body strength. You’re going to need those muscles for crutches or walkers during the recovery.
Check with Your Surgeon, Hospital and Insurer
Here’s quick checklist of questions you should have answered:
Make sure you have a list of all medications you regularly use (over-the-counter as well as prescription) and any food or medication allergies you have.
Make and freeze meals or store up on frozen food ahead of time – enough to last a couple weeks.
Pull together the following items that can make your at-home recovery easier, including a walker (cane or crutches), reaching device and a chair for your shower or bath.
Identify someone who can pick you up at the hospital and help you around the house for several days.
There will be some pain and struggle until your rehabilitation gets you back to normal activities. In the end, most people feel it was well worth it.
Find an Orthopedic Specialist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, National Institutes of Health, The Knee Society, Health Dialog, National Health Service (UK), Arthritis Today