These days, more and more people are getting knee surgery. If you are experiencing chronic knee pain, and regular prescriptions aren’t helping, then your doctor may suggest surgery at some point. The type of knee surgery you have is contingent upon the condition of your knee or the type of injury you have. Although surgery is typically used to treat some form of mechanical problem like a torn ligament or torn cartilage from an injury, another major cause of knee surgery or knee replacement is Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, where over a period of time eats away and wears down the cartilage. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t just affect older people. It can develop at any age. Regardless of whether your knee pain is due to an injury, ligament issue, genetics, arthritis or maybe something else, if you end up having surgery to fix the damage, it’s extremely important that you prepare properly for it. If you want to know how to prepare for knee surgery, keep reading.
Before we get into preparation tips, we wanted to provide you with a few stats to show just how common knee surgery has become over the years. To date, more than 4.5 million Americans have had a total knee replacement, constituting 4.7% of the 50 year and older population. Of those, 63% were woman and 37% men. For women, the rates of knee surgeries per 10,000 people, between the ages of 45 and 64 increased by 157%. For men, the rates of knee surgeries per 10,000 people, between the ages of 45 and 64 increased by 144%. Regionally, 16.6% of knee surgeries were in the NorthEast, another 28.6% in the Midwest, 37.8% in the South, and the remaining 17% in the West.
The rates of surgeries alone are not the only thing increasing. Nine out of ten patients say they have experienced dramatic pain relief as a result of their surgery. In fact, 95% of patients were completely satisfied with their procedure.
How To Prepare For Knee Surgery
If you have an upcoming knee surgery on your calendar, you need to start preparing now and plan things early. Before you even set the date for your surgery, start thinking about how it will impact your life. The first few weeks after the surgery can be stressful, so if you prepare in advance, you can make things go much smoother. Here are some important tips/suggestions on what to do:
- Ask questions – Ask your doctor as many questions as you can think of. Ask them how long the surgery will take, what anesthesia you will use, what rehab is best for you, how long you are not going to be working, etc. You want to write down any questions you think of along the way and then take notes when you get the answers. In fact, you might benefit from bringing a notepad with you so that you can write down the answers just in case you forget.
- Exercise – You want to get into shape as much as you can before the surgery. The more physically fit you are, the better your recovery time will be. Ask your doctor what exercises are best before your surgery and for your particular situation. Improving your upper body strength, for example, makes it easier for you to use a walker or crutches during recovery.
- Get rid of bad habits – If you smoke, try to quit or at least cut down beforehand. Smoking will inhibit the healing and recovery process. If you are a little bit overweight, try to lose a few pounds if possible. Even a few extra pounds shed is a few pounds your healing knee does not have to support. Obesity and smoking increase the chances of complications, so try to stop them as much as possible.
- Start practicing your physical therapy – Figure out what physical therapy exercises you will need to do and start them now. If you know you will be on crutches, by a pair now and start practising walking around with them.
- Write down medical information – Write down your emergency contact, insurance information, health conditions, and any medicines or supplements you take. People are going to ask a lot of questions about this the closer you get to the surgery and even during the physiotherapy session afterwards.
- Phone a friend – You will need help when you recover. If you live by yourself, contact a friend or relative and ask them to stay with you for a while. Or if that’s not possible, ask them to check in on you once a day to see if you need anything. Also make sure you have someone available to bring you to and from the hospital on the day of the surgery.
- Invest in a cold compression therapy wrap – In our opinion, a cold compression therapy wrap (such as the one below) is crucial for post-knee surgery recovery. Many studies have shown that the combination of ice and compression can relieve pain and speed up the healing process. Again, make sure your doctor approves the use of such a device before you decide to buy one. For additional information, refer to the following post: The Importance of Cold Compression Therapy For Knee Pain.
- Stock up – Load up on packaged foods or freezer meals that you can keep on hand. The less cooking you have to do will make your recovery that much easier.
- Buy a post op knee brace – Depending on the nature of your knee surgery, you may need to invest in a post op knee brace for added support, to ease pain, and to speed up recovery. Just make sure you check with your health care practitioner before buying and using one, to make sure it is needed and will help your situation. Refer to the following post for more information: “How Does a Post Op Knee Brace Work?”
- Adjust your home – Make sure your home is easier to navigate. Clear your hallways and put away all loose rugs. Consider safety rails for your bathroom, as well as a sturdy chair to leave near tub/shower in order to sit down to wash. Consider getting a toilet seat rise (with arms installed) if you think you’ll have difficulties sitting down. Move things that you use on a daily basis (coffee machine, condiments, etc.) within arms’ reach of where you plan on resting most of the time.
We hope that you never have to go through it, but if you do, at least you’ll know how to prepare for knee surgery. One important thing to do is to always talk to your doctor. He/she may recommend other things to do ahead of time depending on your situation, so always consult them. If you’ve been through knee surgery before, we’d love to get some feedback from you on how it went and if you have other suggestions on how to get ready for it. Until next time!
Disclaimer – We are not doctors here at SimplyJnJ and we are not qualified to provide medical advice. The information above on how to prepare for knee surgery was posted for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice.