Knee Replacement – What to Do Before Your Operation

Knee Replacement - What To Do Before Your Operation

So you’re going to have a knee replacement. Is there anything you can do to make the whole process easier?

Knee Replacement - What To Do Before Your Operation

Yes there is.

Knee Replacement - What To Do Before Your Operation

Unless your surgery is tomorrow, you must make the most of any waiting period. This means 2 specific and immediate goals:

Knee Replacement - What To Do Before Your Operation

Lose weight and increase thigh muscle (quadriceps) strength. Don’t let the pain lead to increased weight and weaker muscles. Keep as active as you can. Make a real push to increase your level of activity. Speak to a physical therapist about developing an exercise plan that can increase your strength without aggravating your pain. Too many people think¬†… ” I’m having surgery so there is nothing I have to do, it’s up to the surgeon”. The better shape your legs are in before the operation, the quicker you recover and quicker you go home. Isn’t this worth working for?

Knee Replacement - What To Do Before Your Operation

Next, accept any help or information the hospital or your doctor offer. Many have pre-admission talks to introduce staff, inform you about the operation and familiarize you with the wards and procedures. It always amazes me when people do not accept such an offer.

Knee Replacement - What To Do Before Your Operation

Be 100% clear on what you can do to decrease your risk of complications. One of the post-operative concerns is deep venous thrombosis or DVT (blood clots in the legs to normal people).¬† Blood clots form when blood pools in the lower limbs. The risk is significantly decreased if the blood is kept moving. Simple leg exercises (pumping the ankles up and down) can prevent clots from forming. It is not painful, even on the operated leg immediately after surgery, so there is no reason why you should not be doing it. You can’t do too many.

If you have a general anesthetic, you should also do regular deep breathing exercises to decrease your risk of a post-operative chest infection.

There is one more thing you should make sure you pack for your hospital visit:

Motivation

Knee replacements are not fun. They hurt, but the reason you are having one is because of years of crippling pain. The best time to make progress in restoring range of motion is the immediate post-operative period. This means putting in the hard work before the pain has resolved. Unlike hip replacements (where you can be rather lazy and still get a good result) knee replacements take effort, and that is up to you.

Deciding to have surgery is a major decision. You place your trust in the hands of a surgeon but you should not assume a passive role. There are many things you can do to help your recovery.Gathering the correct information is an important step in this process. Some decisions stay with you for life!

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