This page provides a brief introduction to preparation for knee replacement surgery. It can help you come up with questions to ask your doctor, but it is not meant to provide complete information. Always check with your surgeon before taking any action regarding knee replacement surgery.
One of the first preparations for knee replacement surgery is mental and emotional preparation. It is important to reduce outside distractions in your life, such as additional projects.
Awareness is key in the preparation stage of surgery. Be aware of all aspects of the operation, without becoming fixated on an end result. Also, be aware of your environment and the instructions that are given to you by doctors, nurses and specialists. Taking an active role in learning about your surgery can lead to a more relaxed and positive attitude toward it.
One member from the BoneSmart.org Knee Replacement Forum states, “A friend of mine gave me the book, Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster by Peggy Huddleston. It helped me unbelievably. It, and its accompanying cassette tape, lead me through guided meditation, visualization of the healing process, emotional connection to how the [joint] problem may be psychologically related to some unresolved areas of your life, developing a support system, and having the doctors read “Healing Statements” while you are unconscious in surgery. I can’t believe the results.”
Your surgeon might ask you to have a physical examination, but there are some additional ways you can prepare your health. Eating properly, quitting smoking and getting enough rest are the most important lifestyle changes to make prior to knee replacement surgery. Make sure that you are well nourished and as close as possible to the normal weight for your body mass.
Studies have shown that obesity leads to knee-surgery complications. A dietary consult is recommended prior to surgery if you think you may be obese. Start the process of losing weight early on and continue to lose weight after the surgery so that your recovery is a successful one.
One member from the Knee Replacement Forums shares their experience in lifestyle preparation, “My doctor did say that losing as much weight as possible (in a healthy way) was good. Knowing my weight was hurting my joints I started losing 6 months ago, then found out I needed the surgery in November. My doc is very happy I have lost 50 pounds.”
Develop a relationship with your surgeon before the operation and make sure you get all of your questions answered. Learn what the surgery involves and what you can do as a patient. Trust is a key factor in patient-surgeon relations.
Make sure you communicate with other specialists, internists, and regular doctors about your surgery. Discuss anesthesia with your anesthesiologist. Inform them of any problems you may have had with anesthesia in the past.
It is also important for your separate physicians to communicate with each other about your surgery. If you have a cardiologist, put him or her into contact with your surgeon.
Depending on your specific type of surgery, a doctor or therapist will most likely recommend a certain set of exercises. These exercises will likely be prescribed to improve your range of motion, strength, and flexibility – to minimize tightness after the surgery. Most of these exercises involve stretching, not fitness. Speak to your doctor or therapist about the proper techniques.
One member from the Knee Replacement Forums says, “Yesterday I went to my pre-surgery class. We met with nurses, physical therapists and pharmacists. We were told that making your leg muscles strong was important. I was told again that repetitive motion exercise such as the bike were not advised. They recommended isometric muscle exercise to strengthen the thigh and calf muscles as well as ankle lifts. I do think that different doctors have quite different opinions of what is good for prep, materials and recovery.”
Related Forum Post: Prepare for Joint Replacement Surgery & Post-Surgery Recovery
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