Since osteoarthritis causes mobility limitations in about 80% of cases, joint replacement surgery has enormous potential to relieve pain and restore normal living for millions of Americans. Combine this with an aging population, and it’s expected that well over 3 million joint replacements will be performed annually by 2030.
While joint replacement surgery is ultimately a positive experience for more than 90% of recipients who report dramatic reductions in pain, the process is a major event that has impact on you both physically and psychologically.
For most, surgery is new territory that has attendant risks, no matter what the procedure. Understanding what you’re facing helps to minimize the stress surrounding the procedure. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare for your joint replacement procedure.
Learn about your procedure
Knees, hips, and to a lesser extent, shoulders are the primary joints for replacement. Each procedure has its own approach and expectations, so the joint you’re having replaced should naturally be your focus, though you will find much common ground in terms of preparation for surgery.
Choose reputable medical sources of research online. The joint replacement specialists with Orthopaedic Associates of Reading can answer procedure-specific questions as well as guide you through the most important parts of your recovery.
Plan ahead for the post-surgical period
Make sure your surgeon knows in advance of the procedure of all drugs and dietary supplements you’re taking. Some of these may affect surgical approach or anesthesia. Prepare your support team in advance, so your responsibilities are covered during your recovery.
This could include rides to and from your procedure, meal preparation, and childcare duties, as well as taking time off work. Arrange for post-surgery prescriptions ahead of time, and prepare your home to accommodate your recovery needs, from rearranging furniture to stocking up on entertainment options.
If you smoke, reduce consumption or quit prior to and after your procedure. One of the effects of nicotine is on blood circulation, which is a key factor in recovery from any injury or surgery. Expect longer recovery times if you’re a smoker. Avoid alcohol for a minimum of 48 hours prior to your joint replacement, and refrain from using controlled substances. These may have negative interactions with anesthesia or drugs used as part of your surgery.
It may be beneficial to exercise prior to surgery to strengthen muscles you’ll use as you recover. For hips or knees, you may benefit from upper body workouts to aid with a walker or crutches.
The last 24 hours before surgery
It’s normal to feel anxious immediately ahead of your procedure, but you should have much of your preparations complete. The night before your joint replacement, consider the following:
- Have a bath or take a shower, since it will be some time before you can wash normally
- Observe any eating restrictions, typically from midnight on, but follow any specific instructions provided by your surgeon.
- Pack your hospital kit, including non-skid slippers, a robe or gown, personal care items including eyeglasses or hearing aids, reading material, and loose-fitting comfortable clothes for your return home.
With your new joint in place and recovery completed, the stress and anxiety of the surgery itself will feel worthwhile. There’s no need to live with pain or mobility limitations. Contact Orthopaedic Associates of Reading at the most convenient of their three locations to arrange a consultation. Call the office or request an appointment online today.