Recovery doesn’t have to start after the procedure. Preparation and troubleshooting will help keep you safe and healing on schedule.
Planning on replacing a knee or hip as a new lease on life? You’re not alone — more than 7 million Americans have undergone total joint replacements and the numbers continue to grow as the population ages.
So why do so many people need a replacement?
Before improvements were made to its treatment, rheumatoid arthritis was the No. 1 factor leading to joint replacement surgery. Today, osteoarthritis — caused by wear and tear, or trauma — is the leading reason for surgery. Some other major factors include longer life spans and active baby boomer lifestyles.
The good news is advancements in total joint replacements have allowed our population to stay mobile and independent. In recent years, manufacturers have developed innovative plastics and metals that make the replacement joints even more dependable, durable and long-lasting.
If you or your loved one is considering a total joint replacement, preparation, rehabilitation and recovery can have a dramatic effect on success of a new hip or knee. Melissa Cunning, BSN, RN, Total Joint Coordinator at Renown Health, says preparing and putting effort into your recovery and physical therapy is key.
“Those who recover the best have high motivation to participate in therapy. You should actively communicate with your surgeon, registered nurse, physical therapist and occupational therapist to address your questions and needs throughout your recovery,” she says.
Here are five recovery guidelines to help you prepare for a total joint replacement:
- You will not be able to drive for 2 to 6 weeks depending on what your doctor recommends. Arrange for a family member, friend or home care aide to deliver groceries, help you with errands, and drive you to appointments during that time.
- Remove all throw rugs and obstacles that are hard to navigate, keep items you will need within safe reach, and ensure proper lighting throughout your home.
- Prepare a room on the main living level of your home where you will spend the majority of your recovery time, and make room for a walker or crutches.
- Taking pain medications as prescribed in combination with ice packs and elevation of the affected leg will help control discomfort and allow you to actively participate in your rehabilitation therapy.
- Create easy access to a walker or crutches. You may also want to purchase adaptive equipment such as a shower chair, a raised toilet seat or a sock aid – an assistive device that allows you to put on your sock more easily. Adaptive equipment isn’t required but can be purchased at the Logo Shop at Renown, local retail, drug or hardware store, or online.
The best tip of all is to attend a free, weekly total joint replacement class. This two hour class comes highly recommended by those who attend, and will ensure you are prepared and at ease.