Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery

View as:|
1 of 9

Planning ahead

The prospect of having surgery is worrying for everyone, but approaching a procedure that will affect your mobility can be particularly stressful. If you're one of the many people getting ready for hip or knee replacement surgery, preparing both yourself and your home can help reduce your pre-op anxiety and make your recovery safer and easier.

Know your procedure

Make sure you understand the procedure you're having and what your recovery will be like. Ask your doctor all the questions you need to about such issues as rehabiltation, pain management, your hospital stay and anesthesia, and the implant being used in your surgery. And experts stress that you shouldn't be afraid to let your doctor or the hospital staff know if there's something about the surgery or your recovery that you don't understand.

Quit smoking

Smoking can affect how well you recover from a surgical procedure because the chemicals in cigarettes affect blood flow patterns, delay healing, and slow your recovery.

Joint replacement surgery is done to increase people's mobility and quality of life. If you smoke, this is a perfect opportunity to cut back or quit completely in order to help you move into this more comfortable and active stage of your life.

Exercise and eat well

One of the best ways you can ready your body for surgery is by eating well and exercising. If it's a lower joint that's being replaced in your procedure, work on strengthening your upper body in preparation for crutches or a walker after surgery.

Also ask your doctor about the exercises you'll be doing during your recovery. If you practice them ahead of time, you'll be more comfortable doing them after your surgery.

Get a temporary handicapped parking permit

If you don't already have a permanent handicapped parking permit, it may be possible for you to get a temporary disabled permit for use during your recovery. This can help you get out and about with more ease during your rehabilitation.

Contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles for more information on these temporary permits. Your doctor's office may also have permit application forms.

Make "double batches"

Starting a week or two before your surgery, make "double batches" of everything you cook and freeze half. That way you'll have a week or more of ready-made food that you can easily reheat and eat while you're recovering!

You can also stock your freezer with frozen meals and other easy-to-prepare foods so that you don't have to worry about shopping or cooking right away.

Prep your kitchen

In the days before your surgery, go into the kitchen and move everything you use every day out of the cabinets. This way items such as coffee, tea, mugs, plates, and much-used pots and pans will be in a place that doesn't require you to bend or reach to get them.

Do this for items in your bedroom and bathroom as well.

Remove or tape down rugs

Most of us are not accustomed to walking with a walker or on crutches. This means that something as simple as a throw rug or an electrical cord can turn into a major fall hazard for a person recovering from a joint replacement procedure.

Before your surgery, remove or tape down any rugs and move electrical cords around the edges of the room. You might even need to move or remove furniture to clear safe, unobstructed paths through your house.

Set up a "recovery center"

Make sure you have everything you need in one place. Choose a particularly comfortable place in your house and set it up as a "recovery center" with your phone, television, reading glasses, books, magazines, medications, facial tissues, and other necessary items close at hand. Don't forget to make sure your cell phone charger and television remote controls are with you there too!