120616 Getting ready for a joint replacement-part two

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.

The days leading to the surgery

Prior to your surgery, you will get a very thorough health questionnaire. In this questionnaire will be a multitude of questions concerning your present health status, including many of the following.

Your surgeon is going to want to know what type of medications you are taking, including any type of vitamins and herbal supplements. Some of these may interfere with your blood’s ability to clot. In fact, your doctor may want you to stop taking any drug such as warfarin or a supplement that has this effect on your blood. Some of the more common supplements are garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, and ginger.

The surgeon is also going to want to know about any allergies or earlier adverse reactions you may have had to certain drugs or anesthesia. As mentioned earlier, now is the time to notify the surgeon whether or not you have a tendency to be nauseous after surgery due to the anesthesia used.

Let them know if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COP), hepatitis, HIV or any other disease.

Now this just may be a quirk of mine but whenever I have had a surgery, I used a permanent marker and wrote near enough to the joint so the surgeon could read it but far enough away so it did not interfere with the surgical preparations or the surgery, these words:

  • On the non-affected joint, I wrote “NOT THIS ONE.”
  • On the joint to be operated on, I wrote “THIS ONE.”

Granted, this may seem odd but I don’t want to wake up after surgery and find out that the wrong joint has been operated on. Writing on my body prior to the surgery gives me a little bit of extra peace of mind and also lets the surgeon know which limb he or she is supposed to be operating on. They will ask you multiple times which limb will be operated on before you go under the anesthesia.

In your pre-surgery consultations with your surgeon, ask them if they have any suggestions concerning what you can do to prepare yourself physically for the surgery. Also, ask them what types of exercises you are going to be doing after surgery. If you are unfamiliar with any of these exercises, ask for a demonstration or speak to your physical therapist. It’s going to be a lot easier on you if you know how to do these exercises in a semi-healthy state rather than all stitched up after the surgery.

If you drink alcohol, don’t use any for at least 48 hours prior to your surgery.

One last reminder going into your surgery: If you smoke cut back, or better yet quit. Smoking alters patterns of the blood flow, which delays your healing process and will slow down your recovery from the surgery.