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Laying the foundation for a successful joint replacement


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After letting joint pain keep you from the activities you love, you consult with your orthopedic surgeon and decide to have joint replacement surgery. Now it’s time to get ready.

Preparing for a knee or hip replacement in the weeks and months before surgery can go a long way toward determining the speed of your recovery and overall success of the procedure. Here’s a look at some of the steps you can take.

Improve Your Health

You want to be as healthy as possible by the time your surgery day arrives, so work with your primary care physician and others to manage chronic conditions, especially diabetes.

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Stable blood sugar levels can help prevent postoperative infections, according to Liz Lyons, RN, orthopedic nurse navigator at Saint Joseph Hospital. Smokers are more likely to experience poor wound healing and other complications after surgery, reports the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, so if you smoke, kick the habit.

Lean in to Prehab

Ask your surgeon if prehabilitation – an exercise or physical therapy program that takes place prior to surgery – is appropriate for you. The fitter and stronger you are before joint replacement, the easier recovery is likely to be. Prehab can help patients have shorter hospital stays and courses outpatient rehabilitation, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

Make Your Home Recovery Friendly

“When patients return home, safety comes first,” said Tammy Fugate, RN, orthopedic nurse navigator at Saint Joseph East. “Before surgery, it’s important to remove area rugs, which can be tripping hazards, install benches and handrails in the shower and bathroom, and ensure walkways throughout the home are clear and well-lit. Have gates or create on hand to keep pets from getting underfoot.”

Visit the Provider Directory to find an orthopedic surgeon who can tell you about nonsurgical ways to relieve joint pain or help you decide if joint replacement surgery is right for you.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2019 edition of Spirit of Health magazine. Subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine to read more stories like this one.

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