How to Get Ready for Joint Replacement Surgery
Millions of Americans have had joint replacement surgery and about a million more have the procedure every year. It’s one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States, and it’s projected to skyrocket in the coming decades as the baby boomer population ages. But it’s not just for the elderly – active young people have total knee and hip replacements to help them overcome osteoarthritis and years of wear-and-tear on their joints.
If you’re having joint replacement surgery, there are steps you can take to get ready. Follow this step-by-step guide so you know what to do before, during and after surgery to ensure you have the best outcome possible.
The Weeks and Days Leading Up to Surgery
“Staying healthy the weeks before surgery is important,” said June Weise, administrative director, Orthopedic & Spine Institute at Abington-Jefferson Health. “If you are not feeling well, develop a cold, cough, skin problems or dental issues, you need to let your surgeon know days before your surgery.”
Drink lots of water to make sure you’re well hydrated, as long as you don’t have any medical restrictions. This will help with hydration and the insertion of your IV and will also combat post-surgery dehydration.
You should prepare your home for recovery after surgery as well. Pre-cook meals and remove wires, rugs, and other hazards from pathways so it’s easier to get around.
Pack a bag with loose-fitting clothes, sturdy non-skid shoes and your personal toiletries.
The Day Before Surgery
You’ll receive a phone call from a nurse the day before your surgery so they can answer any questions and review important information.
“Unless otherwise directed by your doctor, you should stop eating at midnight the night before surgery,” said Weise. “This means everything, including gum, mints and lozenges. You may have water only up to two hours before your arrival time at the hospital.”
You’ll also be asked to use CHG wipes, which are antiseptic wipes that reduce skin bacteria and your chances for infection. Before using them, wash your hair and shower using antibacterial soap. Dress in clean clothes and use clean sheets. Use the CHG wipes two hours after your shower.
The nurse will review how to use the wipes properly. You’ll use one wipe each for:
- Your neck, shoulders and chest
- Both arms, under arms and hands
- Your hips, stomach and groin
- Your right leg
- Your left leg
- Your back and buttocks
During Your Hospital Stay
You will wear a mechanical compression device on your lower extremities while you’re in the hospital. This device will inflate intermittently to help with circulation as well as assist in preventing blood clots.
“When you return home, you’ll be advised to continue wearing your compression sock on the leg that was operated on for six weeks,” said Weise. “This will help with circulation and healing.”
A physical therapist or nurse will assist you in getting dressed in your everyday clothes and out of bed just hours after surgery to start your rehabilitation program.
Follow these steps carefully and you’ll be on your way to recovery with your newly replaced joint.