Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery
Things to do now:
- Ask a family member or friend to be your coach.
- Lose weight if directed by your surgeon. Being overweight may delay your recovery.
- Begin an exercise program, with your doctor's permission.
- Stop smoking. Every cigarette you smoke can slow your healing process by 24 hours.
- Stop or reduce alcohol use.
- Stop all recreational drug use.
- Discuss all your medications with your primary care physician, including over-the-counter and herbal supplements. Your doctor may suggest you begin taking multivitamins or iron before your surgery, and that you stop taking any medications that may thin your blood (such as aspirin).
- Complete any dental work or other medical appointments at least two weeks prior to surgery.
- Prepare your home for return.
Your surgeon will tell you which medical tests you need prior to joint replacement surgery. Often, you will need blood work, urinalysis and other procedures. You may also need medical clearance from your primary care physician to assess your overall general health. This is to ensure you are healthy enough for surgery.
- Contact your health insurance provider to determine what steps you need to take prior to joint replacement surgery. Some companies will require you to obtain a preauthorization. You will also want to know what your insurance company will cover for the hospital bills and equipment you need after surgery (walker, crutches, cane, bedside commode, shower seat, etc.). This will help you know what to financially expect before your surgery.
- It's a good idea to contact your insurance company to inquire about benefits for outpatient rehabilitation, home health, and inpatient or short-term rehabilitation.
- You may be contacted by a hospital financial counselor to talk about your payments or responsibilities.
Preparing Your Home for Your Return
Preparing for your joint replacement surgery begins well before you enter the hospital. Adaptations to your home prior to your admission will make your transition from the hospital go smoothly and allow for optimal recovery. Here are just a few guidelines you can follow to ensure your safety:
- Upon discharge from the hospital, you will have achieved some degree of independence in walking with crutches or a walker. However, someone will be needed at home to assist you for the next two weeks or until your energy level and mobility have improved.
- Take a good look around your home. If you have steps inside or out, a handrail will make maneuvering them much safer. Grab bars strategically placed in the bathroom can make showering and self-care much easier, and if, by chance, you would need a wheelchair, a minimum of 27 to 30 inches would be needed for it to fit through a doorway.
- Establish a clear pathway for a walker, crutches or a wheelchair. This will include rearranging furniture and clearing the area of throw rugs, cords and toys.
- Consider placing nightlights from your bed to the bathroom.
- Have a chair with the seat 18 to 19 inches off of the floor. It should have a firm seat cushion and sturdy armrests.
- Have prepared meals in your freezer that can easily be reheated.
- Have your laundry washed and put away. Be sure to have good walking shoes and shorts or pants that allow for plenty of movement and access to the surgical site.
- If you have a two-story home, set up a temporary bedroom downstairs while you are recovering.
- Have someone care for your pets while you are recovering. Be aware that small pets may run under your feet and pose a serious fall risk.
- A walker bag, an apron with pockets or a fanny pack will allow you to keep small items such as a portable phone with you at all times.
- Reorganize your cabinets, closets and work spaces so that regularly used items are easy to reach.