An Essential Guide to Joint Surgery
More than 7 million Americans are living with an artificial knee or hip, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and those figures are likely to keep growing. Total knee replacements more than doubled between 2000 and 2009, and total hip replacements increased almost as much.
These procedures can provide a new lease on life for patients experiencing severe arthritis pain that doesn't respond to medication or lifestyle adjustments. Surgery often restores joint function, and makes many daily activities possible once again.
However, what you do before and after surgery will play a big role in the outcomes you experience. Read this guide before you decide on joint surgery.
Steps to Take Before Your Joint Surgery:
1. Explore other alternatives. While surgery can be very beneficial, it's a major undertaking. Try less intensive treatments first, including drugs and exercise.
2. Understand your options. If surgery is indicated, your doctor may recommend total joint replacement or other types of operations. That may include arthroscopy, which often takes as little as one hour, or joint fusion surgery, which can be used when joint replacement isn't feasible.
3. Consider your timing. Deciding when to act can be tricky. You want to have joint surgery as soon as necessary but as late as possible to minimize additional damage and the need for replacement procedures.
4. Lose weight. Your doctor may suggest you take off excess weight to make surgery safer and put less strain on your knees and hips. Maintaining your new figure will also be important.
5. Work out. Exercise plays a big role before and after you're in the hospital. Being fit will speed up your recovery and increase your mobility.
6. Review your medications. Let your doctor know about any drugs or supplements you use. Substances like glucosamine can interfere with anticoagulants that reduce the risk of blood clots.
7. Plan your finances. While insurance will probably cover your surgery, it may not extend to other expenses like home health care and medical supplies. Ensure you budget for the total cost.
Steps to Take After Your Joint Surgery:
1. Prevent infection. You can reduce your risk of infection by keeping wounds clean and taking antibiotics as recommended. Contact your doctor if you see warning signs like fever, redness, or drainage from a wound.
2. Do physical therapy. Plan to start physical therapy before you leave the hospital. You can probably perform many exercises on your own at home once you receive proper instructions.
3. Prepare your home. Be ready for departure day. Clear away clutter and area rugs that could lead to falls. Install grab bars in the bathroom and move your sleeping arrangements to the ground floor if necessary.
4. Dress comfortably. Select loose garments. Elastic waist pants and pull on tops will save time. Wear slip-on shoes until you can bend your legs.
5. Bathe carefully. Keep your incision dry until the stitches are removed. Take sponge baths or use a stool and shower hose.
6. Buy assistive devices. Your physical therapist, medical supply stores, and online catalogues can help you find various items to aid in your recovery. Crutches and walkers can be delivered to the hospital or your home.
7. Arrange for help. Ask a family member or close friend to bring you home from the hospital and stay with you for the first few days. If no one is available locally, see if your church has a homebound ministry.
Joint replacement or other surgeries can be the start of an active and fulfilling new life. Being prepared will help you work with your health team to find the appropriate options for your condition.
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