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20 Tips to Help You Prepare for Surgery

Peace of Mind Is the Bridge to a Positive Surgical Outcome

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Updated April 16, 2014

How to Prepare For Surgery

After the decision is made to have joint replacement surgery, typically arthritis patients go through an intense phase of becoming both physically and psychologically ready for the procedure. If the patient can go into the operation with a sense of preparedness and peace of mind, the chance of a successful outcome increases. Here are 20 tips to help you get ready:

1 - Find an experienced surgeon

Find an experienced surgeon with whom you feel comfortable. It is imperative that you feel you can develop a longterm relationship with the surgeon. The surgeon will become an important person in your life.

2 - Educate yourself

Make sure you ask your doctor all pertinent details about your surgical procedure. Educate yourself about the surgery. Learn as much as possible ahead of time about post-op care, precautions, and possible complications.

3 - Possibly seek a second opinion

If you have any doubts, seek a second opinion from another well-respected surgeon.

4 - Plan ahead

Plan ahead. Schedule the surgery at a time when you can afford time off from work and when it will be least disruptive to your family.

5 - Reconcile risks and benefits

Weigh the risks versus the benefits and reconcile that in your mind. Don't go into surgery dwelling on risks or potential complications.

6 - Have a positive approach

Feel encouraged and have a positive attitude. Focus on the high rate of success of joint replacement surgery.

7 - Gain perspective

Talk with others who have had the same procedure done. Talk with some of your surgeon's other patients in order to gain perspective. Other success stories can remarkably ease your mind.

8 - Visualize life after surgery

Recognize that the pain and deterioration of your joint has diminished your quality of life. Visualize yourself getting your life back after surgery.

9 - Acknowledge anxiety

Realize that you may feel increasingly tense or anxious as the surgery date approaches. Don't fight it - it's normal!

10 - Commit yourself to the process

Make a commitment to do your part to ensure a positive outcome. Actively participate in the process and assume responsibility for your own care (for example - follow precautions, do exercises daily).

11 - Practice using crutches

If you have spent time on crutches before, reacquaint yourself with them. Practice on your crutches, so the awkwardness is not overwhelming just after surgery.

12 - Invest in your rehabilitation

Don't view the recovery period as time lost, but rather as time to rest and recuperate. Realize that the time you will invest in the rehabilitation process is necessary for better health.

13 - Prepare for physical therapy

Realize that physical therapy and your post-op exercise regimen are critical for a successful outcome. Envision each exercise you perform as a stepping stone toward improved strength, improved range-of-motion, and improved function.

14 - Keep organized

Remember that you will be laid up for several weeks. Organize your life! Schedule appointments and take care of business as much as possible in the weeks prior to surgery.

15 - Follow proper nutrition

Take multi-vitamins and eat well-balanced meals in the weeks or months prior to surgery, so that the healing of surgical wounds will be promoted.

16 - Watch for signs of infection before surgery

Infection can be a devastating complication of joint surgery. If any sign of infection exists anywhere in the body preoperatively, surgery must be postponed.

17 - Sign up for autologous blood donation

In the weeks prior to surgery, donate autologous units of blood to be held for your operation.

18 - Do you need to stop any medications?

Ask your doctor if you need to stop any of your medications prior to surgery.

19 - Seek assistive devices and adaptive equipment

Make your environment ready for your homecoming before you go into the hospital. Have assistive devices and other adaptive equipment available, such as:

20 - Arrange for help

Arrange for someone to be with you, especially the first week or two after you go home from the hospital. If no one is available, make arrangements to enter a post-op inpatient rehabilitation facility until you become independent and are able to care for yourself at home.

Your Goals

Never lose sight of your goals. The surgeon and surgical team do their work in the operating room - the rest is up to you. Be inspired and work hard during the rehabilitation phase of your recovery.

Source: Arthritis of the Hip & Knee, by Allen, Brander M.D., & Stulberg M.D.

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