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Preparing For An Orthopedic Surgery

Preparing For An Orthopedic Surgery

Making the correct preparations before orthopedic surgery can lead to faster healing and recovery and the best possible outcome.

Orthopedic surgery is an effective procedure that requires careful preparation if your goal is to experience a safe and successful outcome. If you have an upcoming orthopedic surgery, use this guide to get ready for your procedure and to improve your chances of better overall health following your surgery.

Which Orthopedic Surgeries Require Preparation?

Nearly every type of surgical procedure requires preparation and planning. Some of the most common orthopedic surgeries include:

  • Knee replacement
  • Hip replacement
  • Shoulder replacement
  • Joint fusion
  • Spine fusion
  • Soft tissue repair
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery
  • Osteotomy (a procedure that corrects bone deformities)
  • Debridement (removal of damaged bones and tissues)
  • Ankle repair
  • Trigger finger release

Your orthopedic procedure will most likely require preparation, even if it is not listed above. Ask your doctor to confirm whether you will need to take the following preparation steps before your surgery.

Step #1: Get Chronic Conditions Under Control

Many chronic conditions have the potential to affect the outcome of your surgery. Chronic conditions that are not well managed may lead to problems.

For example, uncontrolled diabetes can cause your wounds to heal slowly. Untreated varicose veins can increase the risk of blood clots. Long-term use of opioids can lead to increased pain after surgery.

Work with your doctor to get chronic conditions under control before your surgery. Take all your medications as instructed and follow your doctor's advice when they tell you to exercise, eat healthy foods, and reduce stress. The better you manage your chronic condition, the better outcome you'll have following your procedure.

Step #2: Change Or Stop Medications

Some medications may increase bleeding or interfere with your body's natural healing process. Some of them may even interfere with the anesthesia you receive before surgery.

Tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking. That includes vitamins, herbs, and nutritional supplements. Your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications until after your surgery. In some instances, your dosages may get changed to reduce your risk for complications.

Blood thinners and antidepressants are types of medications that usually get stopped before surgery. Examples of blood thinners are warfarin and aspirin. Examples of antidepressants you may need to stop before surgery include fluoxetine and paroxetine.

Step #3: Implement Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors

Exercise, nutrition, and quality sleep are behaviors that can help you heal and recover quickly after surgery. These behaviors can strengthen your immune system and reduce your risk for illnesses and other problems after surgery.

Quit smoking if possible or reduce the number of tobacco products you smoke. Reduce your alcohol intake, or stop drinking all alcohol.

Eat more fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and other healthy foods without lots of sugar, sodium, and preservatives. Healthy foods get packed with nutrients your body needs to heal quickly and properly after surgery.

Start an exercise routine. Exercise can increase your strength and fitness level and improve your heart health. Healthy arteries and blood vessels can optimize your body's healing ability. If you are having surgery to replace your hip, shoulder, knee, or joints, ask your doctor about exercises or stretches that are safe for you to do based on your condition.

Step #4: Prepare Your Home

Some types of surgeries require many weeks of downtime and recovery. That is entirely normal, especially if you are getting your hip or knee replaced. You may need to change things in your home to perform daily tasks and get around more easily.

Install handlebars in your bathroom and shower. You may also want to put handlebars along stairways and other areas that are difficult to navigate. Buy a bed and chairs that are easy to get into and out of. Get canes, crutches, and walkers, so you can be mobile until your body has fully healed.

Remove rugs that slide around, as loose rugs can cause you to trip and fall. You should also tack down loose carpets that may cause you to trip or fall.

In addition to putting devices in your home that can make your life easier after surgery, stock up on prepared meals and fun things to do. Set up "recovery stations" near your bed or couch stocked with things you'll need like books, remote controls, and lip balm. Cook meals like casseroles ahead of time that you can heat and serve.

Your doctor may make other suggestions on preparing your home based on the type of surgery you have.

Step #5: Arrange For Help and Support

Your friends and family can be beneficial and life-saving during the days after your orthopedic surgery. Ask your spouse or partner if they can take time off work to help you at home. Or, ask another relative to help you do little things around the house while you recover.

If needed, make preparations for childcare or pet care on the day of your surgery. You'll also need someone to drive you to and from your procedure. A support team of friends and family can reduce the burden you may have when trying to recover on your own without help.

Step #6: Pack For Your Hospital Stay

Your doctor may ask you to pack items that can make your hospital stay more enjoyable. The hospital will ask you to bring information to verify your identity and health insurance.

Items to pack for your hospital stay include:

  • Photo ID, such as your driver's license
  • Health insurance card
  • Contact information for friends and family
  • List of medications you're currently using
  • Personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hairbrush, etc.)
  • Changes of clothing for two to three days
  • Pajamas
  • Comfortable shoes that provide support
  • Reading material

Do not bring any valuable or expensive items to your surgery that can get damaged or stolen. Jewelry, laptops, tablets, and lots of cash are examples of things you should leave at home. Your doctor will give you a checklist and other instructions regarding what to bring and what not to bring to the hospital.

Step #7: Carefully Follow Pre-Op Instructions

Pre-op care instructions are just as vital as post-op care instructions, as they can also affect the outcome of your surgery. Your doctor will give you a list of instructions to follow in the days leading up to your procedure. You may need to avoid certain foods and beverages before surgery. You may also need to stop certain medications and fast for several hours before surgery.

Follow your doctor's pre-op instructions to a tee, as they can help you avoid a delay in surgery. Pre-op instructions can also help you avoid complications.

Shower within a few hours before your surgery. Make sure you wash the area of your body that is being operated on. Do not shave or remove hairs from that area. That could result in skin irritation or small raised bumps.

If you shower the night before surgery, make sure you sleep in clean bed sheets and pajamas.

Do not eat any foods and beverages before your procedure that your doctor has told you to avoid. Your doctor may recommend fasting for between eight and 12 hours beforehand.

Do not hesitate to ask your doctor for more information if you are confused or unsure about any of your pre-op instructions.

Step #8: Attend Physical Therapy Sessions

Physical therapy gets typically included in every post-op treatment plan for people who have orthopedic surgery. Physical therapy offers many benefits that can make you feel better and enhance your recovery.

Physical therapy can increase your mobility and range of motion, especially if you use a cane, walker, or crutches to get around. It can also help you rebuild muscle strength and regain balance and control of your body.

Any exercise or physical activity, including physical therapy, will improve your blood circulation and accelerate your body's healing process. Your doctor may recommend attending physical therapy sessions instead of resuming your usual exercise routine. That is because the movements, stretches, and activities in physical therapy will be customized to optimize your healing and mobility based on the type of surgery you had.

Another significant benefit of physical therapy is pain reduction. Physical therapy will reduce your need for habit-forming pain medications that produce numerous side effects and may even include massage therapy to loosen stiff joints and muscles.

Make sure you attend all physical therapy sessions as recommended by your doctor. If physical therapy is not included in your treatment plan, ask for a referral to a physical therapist who can work with you during the weeks and months following your orthopedic procedure.

Orthopedic Services At Lompoc Valley Medical Center

Lompoc Valley Medical Care offers various orthopedic services that can help you get back to living a healthy, active lifestyle. Our team of highly experienced board-certified doctors gets trained to treat nearly every type of orthopedic condition and specialize in using minimally invasive techniques that promote a faster, more efficient recovery.

Visit our provider page today to make an appointment and learn more about our many available healthcare services for you and your family.