There are many things you need to do before going on a trip. You need to know what you will be doing, how long you’re going to be there, how you will get there, where you will be staying, and when you will be coming home. Getting ready for joint surgery is like that – with the added bonus of a speedy recovery after your procedure, but without the jet lag.

It is important to talk with your doctor about what you can do ahead of time so you can live a fuller, more active life after joint replacement. You may be asked to schedule a complete physical examination several weeks before your operation to make sure you are healthy enough to undergo surgery and have a successful recovery. Major dental work should be completed before joint surgery to reduce the risk of infection. Do not schedule any dental work, such as routine cleanings, for several weeks following surgery.

If you plan to donate your own blood for the procedure, schedule donation times at least one week apart starting about six weeks and ending approximately five days before your scheduled operation. Remember to eat properly during this time and take an iron supplement daily. Check with your surgeon to find out if any of the medications, vitamins or supplements you take should be discontinued a week or two before surgery. Cut down or quit smoking, and if you drink, avoid all alcohol for at least two days before surgery.

You may be able to walk on crutches or a walker soon after surgery, but you will still need help with daily activities for several weeks. Ask a family member or friend to stay with you for at least several days after your operation. If you live alone, make advance arrangements for help with cooking, shopping, bathing and doing laundry, or consider going to a specialized rehabilitation facility after hospital discharge.

To plan ahead for your homecoming, cook double batches and freeze half so you have plenty of food later. Consider buying things that might make it easier after surgery, such as a long-handled shoe horn or sponge, grabbing tool or footstool. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or ask your doctor about applying for a temporary parking permit for a disabled person. Make modifications at home to facilitate getting around, such as installing safety bars in the shower or bath, securing handrails along stairways, placing items at arm level to reduce reaching, and removing throw rugs and securing electrical cords that could cause a fall.

You may need to use a special soap that will help prevent infections during your bath or shower before the surgery. You will not need to shave the surgical area. Other last minute preparations include removing nail polish and makeup, not drinking or eating after midnight, and packing a bag to take to the hospital. Some items you should bring include flat walking shoes, comfortable clothes to wear home, robe, personal care items, medications, and insurance information.

For more information about getting ready for joint surgery, talk with your doctor or call (844) 227.3461 for a free referral to an orthopedic surgeon near you.

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