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Prepping for a Joint Replacement

Technology has greatly improved the way doctors approach hip and knee replacement surgeries — in terms of both surgical approach and healing time. With the minimally-invasive techniques that I specialize in, patients can be out of a knee replacement surgery and walking without the assistance of a cane in as soon as three weeks. That’s a tremendous advance from where we were even in recent years. This rapid recovery time means that patients can be back to doing what they love sooner — with less pain than they had before. It really is quite phenomenal to see how fast things have advanced, and it’s something I’ve had an active hand in as founder and Director of the Laboratory of Advanced Arthroplasty Research in Robotics and Sensors at the NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital.

Regardless, surgery is surgery, and we have yet to find a way to shorten recovery to a simple overnight stay! This is especially true when minimally invasive procedures are not an option and more extensive post-operative care and therapy are needed to ensure a success. If you’re preparing for a hip or knee replacement, it’s important to ready for the recovery process, both physically and mentally.

Understand that after you return home from your surgery, your world will be a little different for at least a few weeks. With that in mind, a little pre-operative planning can go a long way in aiding in your recovery. The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers a great guide to getting your home ready. Among other tips, they recommend arranging for a bed that’s closer to your kitchen and bathroom to make moving from room to room less strenuous, stocking up on groceries that are easy to fix (you could also keep delivery numbers in an easy-to-access spot), and placing commonly used items in a central location so you don’t have to dig around for them. It will also be important to avoid any slips and falls, and they advise using extra caution in areas like the bathroom, where slick floors and weak towel racks can prove hazardous.

Mental preparation is also important. Be sure that you communicate any questions or concerns with me before the surgery. This will eliminate any surprises and help confirm that we are on the same page when it comes to needs and expectations. It’s surely exciting to think of all the activities you’ll be able to try or return to following your procedure. After all, there might be some things you’ve been wanting to do for years but unable to try due to pain and strain. Still, you have to remember to ease into it. At times, you might feel totally dependent on others or fearful that you’ve only made things worse. Don’t cave into these thoughts! Instead, focus on your recovery, knowing that you’ll get into your old routine when the time is right and that pushing yourself too hard too soon could jeopardize your results in both the long and short term.  

Recovery after a hip or knee replacement can be challenging, but the results are very rewarding. Take time as you heal and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance when needed. Soon you’ll be back into your normal routine — and feeling better than ever about it!

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