10 Steps to Prepare for Total Joint Replacement

  1. Get you affairs in order before your joint replacement. Having loose ends tied up prior to surgery reduces distractions and stress during the recovery allowing you to focus energy on getting better rather than managing other aspects of life.
  2. Get your living space ready. Home preparation will also make life easier. Clean your house thoroughly, remove loose plugs and throw rugs and anything else that might pose a fall risk. Remove clutter
  3. Set up a recovery area. Create an area where you can be close to the bathroom and have easy access to food, fluid, ice, medications and other amenities such as remote controls, computer, charging station for phones, e-readers etc…
  4. Stock up your kitchen and other household supplies. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies including good nutrition, hydration with electrolytes, and any over the counter medications such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen and stool softeners. You may wish to prepare meals in advance.
  5. Make several ice packs. Ice is great for pain relief and swelling control. Take 2-3 1 gallon ziplock freezer bags and put 3 cups water and 1 cup isopropyl alcohol in each. These will create a cold slushy gel rather than a hard block. Having several allows one to exchange them and refreeze them easily and use them in rotation.
  6. Get all of your medications in advance. You will be prescribed medications for pain and sometimes other medications including antibiotics. Get all of these before surgery from your physician so that you do not have to worry about getting them after surgery. Put all of your medications in an easy to reach location where you will be recovering.
  7. Get yourself in shape. Prehabilitation includes exercises to the strengthen both your upper and lower body in advance of surgery. Studies have shown that people recover faster when they are stronger. Starting strengthening exercises in the weeks leading up to surgery will speed your recovery. There are many good videos on YouTube if you search prehabilitation for total hip or knee replacement.
  8. Optimize your nutrition. Nutrition is important for healing and can strengthen your immune system. In the weeks leading up to surgery, eat more fruits and vegetable and less sugar and snack food. Eat more protein like fish and eggs. Add vitamins such as Vitamin C, D and A. Zinc is also good for immunity and may help reduce the risk of infection.
  9. Manage your risk factors. Risk factors for infections and poor outcomes include excessive obesity, smoking, poorly controlled diabetes, excessive alcohol intake, regular use of narcotic pain medications, and poorly managed mental health problems. Most of these are modifiable and controllable through lifestyle change. Take control of any of these issues prior to surgery to reduce the risk of complications and poor outcomes.
  10. Own your Outcome. Think of preparing for surgery like training for a race. The more prepared you are physically and mentally, the easier it will be. Take personal responsibility for your outcome by educating yourself about the surgery and recovery and activating all of things you can do to master the recovery.

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