I get many questions regarding what can I do to help prepare myself for hip or knee replacement surgery. Once the patient has reached a decision to undergo joint replacement surgery and has seen their orthopedic surgeon who concurs with the diagnosis and the need for surgery, several things can be done to prepare and optimize the outcome. These include beginning an exercise program if this is not already a part of the patient’s usual routine. Low-impact exercise such as riding a stationary bike, water aerobics, or swimming can be useful to tone muscles, burn calories, improve cardiovascular fitness, and not exacerbate the underlying joint inflammation. These types of aerobic exercises can improve the ability to use crutches or walker after surgery and also improve one’s overall health prior to the operation.
If you are overweight, attempting to decrease your calorie consumption while increasing your exercise will help drop a few pounds which not only makes your recovery easier but also makes the surgery technically easier to perform. Optimizing your medical status is also important making sure that any underlying medical condition is evaluated and updated and that your medications are in order. It is important to check with your internist or family physician to make sure that there are no “loose ends” in your healthcare history prior to an elective operation. Rearranging your home to make sure that there is easy access to essential items and avoiding throw rugs and other things that can be hazardous after surgery is important. Stocking up on food that is easy to prepare will help in the first few days after you return home from surgery. Arranging for assistance in the form of family members or friends to help you your first week home can be very important. These are things that should be taken care of ahead of surgery so that you do not have to scramble while you are in the hospital arranging for someone to give you assistance following your operation. Arranging for transportation to and from a physical therapy after surgery is also helpful as often outpatient physical therapy will be required.
It is an investment in your future health and important that you become an active participant in the recovery from your operation. Most people will be in and out of the hospital in just a few days after a hip or knee replacement so it is important to make sure that these things are taken care of ahead of time.