Knee replacement surgery is usually scheduled weeks in advance. Use this time wisely. There is a lot you can do before surgery to make sure your recovery at home goes smoothly. While you are getting ready, carefully follow your health care team’s advice about:
- Changes you should make in your diet.
- Exercises you should start, stop, or continue. You may be scheduled to see a physical
therapist and begin exercises before surgery.
- Helping your recovery by losing or gaining a few pounds.
- Your medicines. There may be medicines which you should start, stop, or continue
taking. Be sure to talk with your surgeon about all medicines that you take regularly or
occasionally, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
During this time:
- Try to arrange for someone to help you for part of the day, every day for the first couple
of weeks after surgery.
- Prepare easy-serve meals and freeze them. Stock up on fruit, heat-and-serve soups, and
- Rest and relax. Take good care of your physical and mental health. Don’t overdo things.
And make sure you plan some enjoyable activities to relax your mind and give your
spirits a lift.
- Report health changes to your surgeon. Tell him if you have any cuts, scrapes, or sores on the affected leg or signs of an infection, such as chills, fever, coughing, or runny nose within a week of your scheduled surgery. If an infection lasts, surgery may have to be rescheduled. Also, your surgeon may want your regular doctor to give you a check-up before surgery.
- Learn about your insurance coverage. Talk with your benefits manager at work or call your insurance company. Make sure you know what will be paid for by insurance and what must be paid for by you. For example, if you have a special need for home care or special equipment when you return home following surgery, your surgeon may order it for you. Find out before your surgery if your insurance will pay for these items.
If You Smoke
Nicotine has been shown to slow down the healing process. Therefore, your surgeon may want you to quit smoking before surgery. Also, since most hospitals are “smoke free”, you must stop smoking while in the hospital. Rather than have the stress of nicotine withdrawal while your body is recovering from surgery, you may want to quit smoking well before surgery. Talk with your surgeon before using nicotine replacement products such as patches or gum.
Getting Ready for Your Return Home
Getting Your Home Ready
Your new knee joint will affect where you sit and how you get up from sitting. It will be easier for you to get up from places where your hips are higher than your knees. Therefore, before you go to surgery, check out your favorite sitting places. You may have to place a firm pillow in your favorite chair while you are recovering. Also, it is easier to get out of chairs which have arms that you can use to push up on. When getting up, push up on the chair arms while pushing up with your unaffected leg. For your bathroom, you can rent or buy a raised toilet seat that has arms or install hand rails. Take up loose rugs to avoid accidental slips or falls.
If your bedroom is upstairs, it is very helpful to make a temporary bedroom downstairs until you are able to go up and down stairs. Dining rooms make great temporary bedrooms because they are close to the kitchen and many are not used every day.
Your surgeon may want you to have special equipment when you get home. This equipment will help you make the transition from the hospital, where you had help, to home, where you will begin taking care of yourself. Special equipment will make it easier and safer for you while you are recovering. Your surgeon many not want you to have every device available, because he wants to urge you to become independent as soon as possible. He will recommend equipment to you based on your individual needs.
Lack of full motion in your knee can hinder daily activities such as dressing and bathing. However, you can use special equipment such as sock donners, dressing sticks, and long handled shoe horns to help you get dressed. Elastic shoe laces can turn lace-up shoes into slip-ons. A grabber will help you pick up things which are on the floor without bending over too far. A long handled sponge makes it easier to wash yourself while taking a shower or bath. If you are not able to stand in the shower, a shower seat can straddle one side of the bathtub. Crutches or a walker will allow you to walk by yourself; the physical therapist will teach you how to use these. Try not to get frustrated doing everyday tasks. Remind yourself that this is only temporary, and you will be as good as new in no time!
It is best to get needed special equipment before you return home. If you cannot find any of these items, ask the occupational therapist or social worker at the hospital where you can get them.