050616 Getting ready for a joint replacement-part one
According to the National Institute of Arthritis Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, which is a part of the National Institute of Health, there are over 1 million Americans having a hip or knee replaced every year. Research, over the years, has found that even if you are older a joint replacement will increase your ability to move around with less pain.
Even though these types of surgeries are becoming more common, there are still risks involved. You can reduce some of these risks, prior to your surgery, if you make the effort. A few short and sweet physical fitness guidelines lay along these lines: increase your cardiovascular endurance, strengthen the muscles around the joint and most important if you are overweight, lose weight and if you smoke cut back or quit.
As for the mental aspect of the upcoming surgery, you can prepare yourself for the surgery by devouring as much information as possible about the surgery, about what you can expect after the surgery and learning as much as possible about what you can do to make your recovery faster. Perhaps that last portion should read making your recovery easier.
Do both the physical and mental preparations simultaneously. For instance, as you are riding your stationary bicycle increasing your cardiovascular endurance you can be reading up on the surgery, you can be reading up on what to expect afterwards, and you can learn about the different modalities of recovery.
The more you know about getting better the easier and faster your recovery is going to be. Your prime goal during this entire ordeal will be to regain the full functionality of the affected joint. The recovery process is going to hurt. You must realize this point at the get go.
Too many people rely on too many drugs for too long, which in my opinion sets them back. Get off the pain medication as soon as possible and your rehabilitation will go quicker, you will be more mentally alert and more tuned into your body and the effect of the rehabilitation process on it.
When it comes to the point of deciding about having the surgery, don’t be shy about talking with your Doctor about it. Write your questions down before your appointment so you aren’t just going in blind.
Some of the questions you may have will be how long is the surgery going to last, what type of anesthesia is used to (if you have had surgeries in the past and you are nauseous in the recovery room, ask for anti-nausea medication during the anesthesia process. This, in itself, will help you get better sooner. It is hard to focus on recovery when you’re throwing up.
Your prior research into the surgery could reveal common complications, but just in case they didn’t, then ask your doctor about them. Find out how often they happen and what you can do to help prevent them.
If you’re concerned about the pain you going to be in afterwards ask how this can be mitigated. It has been my experience that if you do not have this conversation with the doctor then you are going to leave the hospital with enough pills to kill a horse.
Ask the surgeon how long you can expect to be in the recovery/rehab process. In addition to asking them how long you going to be in this recovery mode, find out what you can do to speed it up without damaging the joint. There is a fine line between speeding up and going too fast. If you cross this line, you can expect a setback in your rehab. A prior contact with your physical therapist will give you a good idea of what to anticipate.
Find out what your limitations are going to be after the surgery. In some cases, you may not be able to the subject the joint to heavy impacts such as skipping rope, running, or doing lower body plyometrics.
As you are making the decision about having the joint replacement surgery keep this in mind, there are no questions that are too trivial for you to ask if it means you are increasing your knowledge and awareness about this surgery.