Once you and your orthopedic surgeon have determined that you are a good candidate for knee replacement surgery, you will have several weeks, or perhaps even months, to prepare physically and emotionally. Planning ahead will help ensure your surgery and your rehabilitation and recovery are as smooth and stress-free as possible.
- Talk to your surgeon about what to expect before, during, and after the knee replacement surgery. This includes information about the hospital admission process, type of anesthesia, type of implant, length of hospital stay, the rehabilitation process, pain management, and possible complications.
- Prepare yourself physically. If you smoke, quit or cut down, as smoking slows down the recovery process. If you drink alcohol, avoid drinking for at least 48 hours before surgery. If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about losing weight. (See “Knee Surgery and Weight Loss.”) If you decide to lose weight, this may delay your surgery for several months, but it could be a positive decision in terms of long-term benefits from the surgery.
- Tell your doctor about any medications and supplements you are taking, as they can have an impact on your surgery.
- Ask your doctor for pre-surgery exercises you can do that can strengthen your leg muscles. People who go into surgery with conditioned muscles can recover faster and enjoy a better result. Also ask about exercises to strengthen your upper body, which can help you manage crutches or a walker after surgery.
- Prepare your home or apartment for post-surgery living, including the possible need for someone to visit daily or live with you during your recovery period.
- Check with your health insurance provider to make sure you understand your coverage and financial responsibilities.
- Borrow crutches or a walker to practice with before surgery.
To prepare for the surgical procedure itself, you will undergo a general examination that will include routine blood work and a chest x-ray, as well as a urinalysis and an electrocardiogram if you are older than 50. You may be asked to donate blood in case you require an infusion during surgery.