Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery

By John C. Kagan, M.D.

Joint Replacement SurgeryJoint replacement surgery can have a great impact on your comfort and your ability to live a full and active life. Because joint replacement surgery can be scheduled far in advance, there are many things you can do to prepare for surgery to make your recovery as quick and painless as possible.

Before you plan the surgery, consider the amount of time it will take to recover. You should plan to either have someone at home to assist you with your day-to-day activities, or plan to move temporarily into a rehabilitation hospital or skilled nursing facility during your recovery, so make sure you can clear your calendar of work or travel plans for several weeks following the surgery.

Once you and your surgeon decide to schedule the procedure, ask lots of questions to make sure you understand the risks and benefits. Some questions to ask include:
. How long will I be in the hospital?
. What type of anesthesia will be used?
. What kind of prosthesis or implant will be used?
. How long will my recovery take?

Because the planning process can be intensive and sometimes overwhelming for patients, it may be a good idea to bring a friend or relative to your appointment to take notes and make sure all of your concerns are addressed.

Once you’ve set a date for the surgery, it’s time to prepare your body physically. It’s a good idea to exercise as much as possible ahead of the surgery, which can dramatically speed up the recovery process. If you will need a cane or walker, you may wish to focus on your upper body strength.

Also consider your lifestyle choices and how they affect your overall health. If you’re a smoker, it’s a great time to quit. Smoking can prolong the recovery and healing process significantly. If you’re overweight, make an effort to shed some pounds before the surgery in order to reduce the strain on your new knee or hip and reduce the risk of post-operative complications.

Now that you’ve considered your physical health, look around your home and think about how it will affect your recovery. Is there lots of clutter between your bedroom and bathroom, for example, which could pose trip or fall hazards? If you live in a home with stairs, consider setting up a temporary bedroom on the main floor so you won’t have to go up and down stairs during your recovery. You may also want to install safety rails in the bathroom near the shower and toilet to further reduce the risk of falls. And make sure whatever you will need – phones, TV remotes, coffee makers – is within reach before you head to the hospital, so it will be ready and reachable when you return.

If you do not currently have a disabled parking permit and will need to drive during your re-covery, you may want to apply for one ahead of time.

In Florida, your doctor can sign a form requesting a temporary disabled parking permit to cover the duration of your recovery. Forms are available online and at local DMV offices.

Finally, since a successful recovery requires physical therapy, talk to your doctor about learning the stretches and exercises you will need to perform before the surgery. Some local hospitals now offer pre-surgical physical therapy training for patients planning joint replacement surgery. If you are familiar with what will be expected, the exercises will be easier to perform.

With proper preparation, you can recover quickly from joint replacement surgery. Once your recovery is complete, you can enjoy all the benefits of increased mobility and reduced pain, and you will be able to live a more active lifestyle for years to come.

Dr. John C. Kagan and his staff are happy to answer your questions about joint replacement surgery. Dr. Kagan has more than 30 years of experience as an orthopedic surgeon treating patients in Southwest Florida.  He specializes in treating patients with knee, shoulder and hip pain, as well as general orthopedics and hand surgery.  For more information go to or call 239-936-6778.

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