Getting physically and psychologically ready for joint replacement surgery can be an intense process. Those who are better prepared tend to achieve better results. Here are 20 tips for achieving optimal results: *
- Find an experienced surgeon – Your orthopaedic surgeon will become an important person in your life for years to come. Make sure you are comfortable with your doctor’s approach, level of experience and personality.
- Educate yourself about your surgery – Learn as much as possible about pre-op preparations, the procedure, post-op care, precautions and possible complications. Ask your doctor to go over your surgical plan, outcomes and long-term care in detail.
- Seek a second opinion – Your surgeon should honor your right to confer with another, well-respected orthopedist if you have any doubts.
- Plan ahead – Schedule surgery when you can afford to take time off from work, and when it will be least disruptive to your family.
- Weigh risks versus benefits – Reconcile the big picture in your mind so you don’t go into surgery dwelling on risks or potential complications.
- Have a positive attitude – Be encouraged and focus on the high rate of success for total joint procedures.
- Talk with past patients – Hearing about other’s successes can help you gain perspective and ease your mind.
- Visualize getting your life back – The pain and deterioration of your joint severely diminished your quality of life. Think about how much things will improve after surgery.
- Realize feeling tense or anxious is normal – Don’t fight it!
- Actively participate – Make a commitment to do your part to ensure a positive outcome and assume responsibility for your own care (i.e., follow precautions, do exercises daily, etc.). Consult with your orthopaedic surgeon with questions or concerns.
- Practice on crutches – If you have spent time on crutches before, reacquaint yourself with them so the awkwardness won’t be overwhelming after surgery.
- Don’t view the recovery process as time lost – This is time to rest and recuperate. Time invested in rehabilitation is necessary for better health.
- Prioritize physical therapy – Realize your physical therapy and postop exercise regimen are critical for a successful outcome. Think of each exercise as a stepping-stone toward improved strength, range of motion and function.
- Prepare for downtime – Remember you will be laid up for about 6 weeks. Organize, schedule appointments and take care of as much business as possible before surgery.
- Take multi-vitamins and eat well-balanced meals – Be particularly health conscious during the weeks and months leading up to surgery to promote better healing.
- Be conscious of infection – If you have any sign of any kind of infection anywhere in your body you must postpone surgery.
- Donate autologous units of blood – You can donate your own blood in the weeks prior to surgery to be held for your operation.
- Ask about current medications – Find out if you need to stop taking any prescription, over-the-counter or herbal remedies before surgery.
- Adapt your environment – Get ready for homecoming before you go to the hospital by having a raised toilet seat, reachers and other adaptive equipment already available.
- Arrange for help – Plan for someone to be with you, especially for the first week or two at home. If no one is available, make arrangements to enter a post-op inpatient rehabilitation facility until you are independent enough to care for yourself at home.
Never Lose Sight of Your Goals
The surgeon and surgical team do their work in the operating room. The rest is up to you. With inspiration and hard work, you will achieve great success throughout your rehabilitation, recovery and beyond.
*Adapted from an excerpt of “Arthritis of the Hip & Knee,” by Allen, Brander M.D., and Stulberg M.D., as it appeared on http://arthritis.about.com/od/surgicaltreatments/a/tipsforsurgery.htm.