Always be prepared. This Boy Scout motto, which has been widely adopted in mainstream society, is tried-and-true advice, especially for those of us who live in a city as unpredictable at New York. While this mentality is useful for many things in life, it is especially helpful as you prepare for a hip or knee joint replacement surgery. A joint replacement can make your life easier in the long run, and technological advances have made the surgical process more streamlined and efficient than ever. Furthermore, you can take comfort in the fact that joint replacements are the routine in my surgical schedule, and given the inherent safety of numbers, you are (literally) in good hands under my care. Still, getting a new joint is a major surgery and planning ahead for its details and recovery time is nothing but helpful to the patients that I treat. Here are a few basic tips to help ensure that your joint replacement goes as successfully as possible
Know what you are getting into
Before your joint replacement surgery, I want to have an in-depth conversation with you about what to expect during, immediately after, and in the months following your procedure. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or shy away from talking about any aspects of the surgery that make you nervous. After multiple decades in this profession, I’ve heard most concerns under the sun and greatly appreciate a patient who is eager and willing to better understand the details of the joint replacement process.
Prep your body
One of the reasons I want you to become more familiar with the joint replacement procedure in advance is so that you can prepare your body for the changes that it will bring. Depending on the type of procedure you undergo, you could be up and walking in a matter of hours or a matter of days. Regardless of if you choose a minimally invasive procedure or a more traditional open approach, you will face weeks of physical therapy and some bedrest. Before surgery, it’s not uncommon for my patients to have been fairly inactive thanks to the chronic pain that accompanies many joint injuries and the arthritis that can cause them. Your new joint should provide welcome relief from this ongoing hurt, but to get the most out of your replacement, you’ll need to abandon the sedentary lifestyle and start moving, whether that means walking, biking, dancing, or another activity. Getting into a more mobile routine in the weeks leading up to your surgery can motivate you to stick with activity as you heal.
Be mindful of red flags before they appear
A problem joint replacement is very uncommon among my patients. Across the board, hip and knee replacement surgeries are typically successful and worthwhile. In the unlikely event that your procedure does not go as planned, however, you will need to be aware of signs of trouble. This includes infection, intense pain or swelling that doesn’t dissipate within a few days after its arrival, warmth around the treatment area, and instability. If any of these symptoms pop up, especially in conjunction with one another, you should speak with a medical professional as soon as possible to rule out trouble.
A joint replacement is exciting and a big change. To help you have the best experience possible, it’s important to stay ahead of the game. Understanding what is to come can help you better direct your surgery’s outcome.