Joint Replacement Readiness: Five Tips for a Successful Recovery
Are you planning to have joint replacement surgery (hip or knee)? If so, here are five important steps you can take before your surgery day to set you up for a successful recovery.
Identify your care partner
Recovering from surgery goes a lot smoother with help from your friends and family. A care partner is there with you on your recovery journey. In many cases, this individual will go with you to pre-op appointments, serve as an emergency contact, help you home after surgery and be there for you in the delicate days following your procedure. A care partner is often a spouse, close family member or trusted friend. This individual does not need to have a medical background and will be supported by your surgeon, home nurses and physical therapist. Patients who have a good support system are much more likely to go home after surgery instead of recovering in a skilled nursing facility. It is well established that there is no place like home to recover.
Start with “prehab” exercise
Enrolling in a prehab program through your hospital or starting home exercises before your surgery is a way to better prepare your body for recovery. In fact, you will likely hit the ground moving in the hours following your hip or knee replacement with the help of a physical therapist. Becoming familiar with recovery exercises and movements is not only beneficial for your body, but also for your mindset.
Create a safe space at home
Recovering at home is the preferred option for most joint replacement patients. In the appointments leading up to your procedure, your surgeon will often give you tips to get your home ready for your return after surgery. Things like installing any handrails, especially in the bathroom, removing obstacles (such as rugs) from your path of travel and having a place to sleep on the ground level to avoid stairs are important safety measures you can take.
Meal prep and hydrate
Nutrition should not be overlooked when it comes to your recovery. Prepping and freezing nutritious meals or enrolling in a healthy meal delivery service is a great way to make sure your body gets what it needs in the days and weeks following your surgery. Additionally, proper hydration before and after your surgery is critical. Make sure you familiarize yourself with hospital approved pre-op beverages like the Ensure clear pre-surgery drink. Only hospital approved drinks can be consumed up to two hours before your procedure. Most beverages—such as soda, juice and milk—cannot be consumed before your procedure. A good rule of thumb is “nothing to eat or drink after midnight.”
Attend pre-op appointments and classes
When it comes to pre-op appointments and patient education classes, perfect attendance has never been more important. These touch points leading up to your big day are a way for you to make sure your questions are answered, you understand your procedure and the risks and have a game plan for how you and your recovery team (surgeon, nurses, physical therapist and care partner), will help you achieve the best results possible.
At the Total Joint Center, our team of surgeons, internal medicine specialists, anesthesiologists, nurses, rehabilitation specialists and case workers connect with patients every step of the way. Visit the Total Joint Center website or call 401-793-5852 for more information.
About the Author:
Eric M. Cohen, MD
Dr. Eric Cohen is a physician with a fellowship in joint reconstruction, performing minimally invasive anterior total hip, total knee and partial replacements at the Total Joint Center at The Miriam Hospital and University Orthopedics.
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