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Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery

Joint replacement is a serious decision for any family. Many factors can affect the recovery period, and each of these factors requires energy and dedication.

Published: Sep 11, 2015

Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery

Joint replacement is a serious decision for any family. Many factors can affect the recovery period, and each of these factors requires energy and dedication.  Today, a person's overall health and activity level are more important than age in predicting a joint replacement's success, so preparing the body and mind for the journey ahead is an important part of healing. The good news is that joint replacement does have a high level of success, and can significantly improve one’s quality of life. Though recovery does take time and building strength requires patience and effort, joint replacement helps people experience renewed movement in their joints and relief from ongoing pain.

Once a patient and his or her doctor have decided that joint replacement is a good option, then the process of emotionally and physically preparing for surgery and recovery begins. At the same time, the doctor will order a series of evaluations to assess a patient’s joint replacement success.

Prepare at Home

Making plans before surgery makes everyday tasks easier and reduces stress. Organizing one’s home by immediately setting up a support system can make healing easier and speed recovery. Here are some recommendations:

  • Learn what to expect. Read about the doctor’s plan and experience with joint replacement. Ask for booklets and other literature to help prepare for before, during, and after surgery.
  • Arrangements should be in place for someone to help around the house for the first few weeks after returning home from the hospital. This could be a family member, friend, or in-home caregiver.
  • Make sure a ride is arranged for going to and from the hospital.
  • Create a "healing station" at home. Place the television remote control, radio, telephone, medicine, tissues, wastebasket, and water pitcher and glass next to the spot where the most time is spent during recovery.
  • Place everyday items at arm level to avoid any reaching or bending.
  • Keep the kitchen well-stocked and prepare food in advance, such as frozen meals or soups that can be easily heated.

Prepare with the Doctor

Before surgery, there will be a pre-operative evaluation. The medical team will look at the surgical plan and identify possible complications. This evaluation helps ensure a successful operation: 

  • Pre-admission testing. This may include a physical exam, a lifestyle and health questionnaire, and a complete blood count to check for everything from diabetes to anemia, a coagulation test for normal blood clotting, and a test of the kidneys, liver, and pancreas. There may also be an EKG to evaluate heart health.
  • Medication adjustments. If a patient is currently taking medications, the doctor may want to adjust any prescriptions. There may be new prescriptions, including blood thinners. Since a major surgery side effect is infection, antibiotics may be recommended to improve the immune system.
  • Imaging. The doctor will look at x-rays and possibly request an MRI to fully understand the joint condition. These images will help with the surgical plan and help decide on the size and placement of the new joint.
  • Physical therapy. The doctor or physical therapist may help with muscle-strengthening exercises. Research shows that patients who start physical therapy and strengthen their muscles before surgery recovery faster and better.

Recovery takes time. The patient may experience some pain and discomfort as well as frustration with his or her limitations. It may help to read about the tips and tricks of other successful joint surgery patients or talk with friends who have experienced similar surgeries. The focus should be on the rewards of being able to engage in activities again. At Comfort Keepers®, we work with our clients to create healthy, safe environments before and after hospital stays. Whether it’s just a few hours of extra help each day or full-time care, we can be a helping hand during recovery and offer the peace of mind that’s needed. We understand that with the right preparation for joint replacement, clients can heal faster and get back to being themselves. Contact us today to learn more about how we support health and healing.

References:

Greengard, Samuel. “Before Total Knee Replacement Surgery,” Healthline. Web. Apr 30, 2012.

Lai, Katie. “Social Experience Seen to Influence Joint Replacement Decisions.” National Institute on Health. Web. 2003.

“Hip Replacement: How to Prepare and What to Expect.” National Institute of Arthritis and Muscoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Aging Care LLC. Web. 2015.

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