Preparing for total joint replacement begins weeks before the actual surgery. In general, you may be told to:
Your hospital stay will progress something like this:
Many people will be with you in the operating room during your one to three-hour surgery, including:
Your surgeon and the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will help you choose the best anesthesia for your situation. No matter what type of anesthesia you have, be assured you will not feel the surgery. Options include:
You may have any of the following inserted:
Elastic stockings will be put on your legs to help the blood flow. You may also have compression foot pumps wrapped around your feet and connected to a machine that blows them up with air to promote blood flow and decrease the possibility of blood clots.
When you leave the hospital, your family will need to bring extra pillows for you to sit on in the car. It will be most comfortable to sit in the front seat. Your physical therapist will show you how best to get in and out. All of the tubes will be out. All that should remain is a bandage on your wound site. If you have been instructed to use an abduction wedge you will still need to use this at night when you are sleeping. You’ll need to continue taking medications as prescribed by your doctor. You may be sent home with prescriptions for preventing blood clots, some of which require monitoring through blood draws two times per week. Make sure to take pain medication 30 minutes before exercises—it’s easier to prevent pain than to chase it later. Your surgeon may recommend taking a multi-vitamin with iron daily for a month. You may also be advised to take 1-2 enteric-coated aspirin daily for 6 weeks and non-steroid anti-inflammatory medication for pain and swelling unless you are on blood thinners such as Coumadin or Lovenox. Check with your doctor about special precautions while on these bloodthinning medications.
After hip replacement, you will need to observe some important safety rules to help prevent dislocation. Here are some of the most frequently advised precautions. Review them with your surgeon and discuss how many months you will need to follow these, or any other safety rules prescribed after surgery:
Ask your occupational therapist about special equipment to help you do routine things for yourself without placing your hip in danger of dislocation. These tools include:
Getting physically and psychologically ready for joint replacement surgery can be an intense process. Those who are better prepared tend to achieve better results. Here are 20 tips for achieving optimal results: *
The surgeon and surgical team do their work in the operating room. The rest is up to you. With inspiration and hard work, you will achieve great success throughout your rehabilitation, recovery and beyond.
References: *Adapted from an excerpt of “Arthritis of the Hip & Knee,” by Allen, Brander M.D., and Stulberg M.D., as it appeared on http://arthritis.about.com/od/surgicaltreatments/a/tipsforsurgery.htm.