How to Prepare for Joint Replacement Surgery

Eat a healthy diet:

If you are overweight, start your weight-loss program before surgery. Get “ready for prime-time!” For the week prior to surgery, avoid fried and fatty foods: donuts,cookies, ice cream, pizza, hoagies, fries, pies, cakes. This is your Super Bowl….get ready for your surgery. Do not eat or drink anything after 11 p.m. the night before surgery 

Exercise comfortably:

Most joint patients cannot do repetitive loading activities such as running, walking on a treadmill, or sports activities. But, you can join a YMCA or other health club and do water exercises several times a week. Some patients can do the elliptical machine or a stationary bike with minimal resistance. Try stretching your knee and practice the post-op stretches that you will learn at the Joint Class. 

Get your living space ready for your return:

When you attend the mandatory Joint class if you live out of town, you will get a DVD of the class),you will learn how to get your house or apt “game-ready” Get rid of any loose rugs, any electrical cords that are on the floor and easily tripped over. Do you have a chair that is secure and not too low? Where will you sit and relax? After your surgery, low, cushy sofas and plush chairs are not safe or comfortable to sit down or get up after your surgery. Is your lighting adequate if you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night? Is your bed too low? You will have special aids for your toilet and shower after you leave the hospital. Make sure your railing inside and outside your home is secure. You will need some support from the stair banister or outside railing until your balance and strength improves. 

Family/friend support team:

All patients need help when coming home. Who will be there to assist you for cleaning, shopping, and cooking? Someone needs to be with you the first 5 days after you come home. Make sure your house is clean before you leave for the hospital. Fill your freezer with meals that you can simply defrost and heat. 

Plan ahead! 

Skin prep:

The day before surgery you will wash with a special anti-bacterial cleanser. The hospital pre-op nurse will give a cloth that you will use the night before and morning of your surgery. This helps to minimize infections. Do not sun tan before your surgery…..burning the skin where you will be having surgery increases the risk of infection. 

Notify your employer:

Let your employer know about your surgery date and need for time off after surgery. Most patients can drive after 3-4 weeks after knee replacement and 4 weeks after hip surgery. If you have an office position, plan on 4-6 weeks off work. If your job is more physical, you may need 3 months or more to get back to your job. Check if you have any short-term disability, or ability to take “medical leave”. 

Joint Class:

If you live in the Philadelphia, Delaware County, or South Jersey area, you will be attending a mandatory joint class taught by an orthopaedic team of nurses, physical therapists, operating room nurse, and discharge planning social worker.  This session takes about 1-1½ hours.  I encourage your family to attend the session and ask as many questions as you find appropriate.  If you are a reserved person, don’t worry, some other patient will most likely ask a question that will address your concern. 

After I leave Cooper University Hospital, where will I go for rehab?

 While most patients will go home after surgery, not all patients have strong support systems when they return home.  If you have had bilateral hip or knee surgery or are 85 years or older, there is a high likelihood that you will be accepted into an Acute Rehab Unit.  Otherwise, the discharge planner will assist you in finding a skilled orthopaedic nursing facility near your home.  I strongly encourage you to discuss your discharge planning needs prior to your surgical date so that there will be no confusion or delay when you are ready to be discharged from the orthopaedic unit.  There is no need to call your insurance company prior to the surgery. If you are having a single joint replacement, whether it be hip or knee, and are under the age of 85, plan on going home or if needed, a skilled orthopaedic nursing facility. 

Positive Attitude:

Patients who are prepared and have a positive attitude towards their surgery usually have the best early results.  Rest assured that our orthopaedic team is ready to help you with any concerns you may have.  We want you to have peace of mind so that when you come into surgery, you can rock ‘n’ roll!!! My orthopaedic nurses are ready to receive any concerns that you may have regarding your upcoming surgery.