Your In-Depth Guide To Preparing For Joint Replacement Surgery

Updated on October 20, 2022

Undergoing surgery can benefit you since it can help improve your overall health and well-being by relieving any pain and treating your medical condition. A joint replacement surgery, for instance. An orthopedic surgeon could recommend this procedure to restore your joints’ functions. This is commonly applied to the knee or hip. And in some cases, elbows, shoulders, ankles, or fingers. 

But considering that joint replacement surgery is a major procedure, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed or worried about the procedure and what it may entail. Hence, it’s always best to discuss all the details of the joint replacement surgery with your orthopedic surgeon before the procedure. 

Furthermore, you should be adequately prepared physically and psychologically before the procedure, as it can take a toll on you. In the preparations, you can try to predict potential challenges and how to navigate pre-surgery and post-surgery. And while you might not be able to prepare for every aspect of the joint replacement surgery, there are a few crucial areas you must prepare for.  

With that, here’s an in-depth guide to preparing for joint replacement surgery: 

  1. Consult Your Doctor 

The first step in your joint replacement journey is to talk to a doctor who’ll examine you and give you a diagnosis. Once your doctor has determined that you’ll need joint replacement surgery, they’ll proceed to explain how the procedure will be and what you’re likely to expect. 

You can take this time to ask questions if you’re unsure how to prepare for the procedure. Some of the questions that you can ask include the following: 

  • What is the admission procedure into the hospital? 
  • For how long would you be admitted to the hospital after the surgery? 
  • What kind of anesthesia will they use on you? 
  • What prosthetic implants are available, and which is best for you? 
  • Will the recovery take long? 
  • What can you do to manage the pain after the surgery? 

Asking such questions can help you anticipate any challenges you might face during and after the procedure. Moreover, you’ll be prepared to adjust to having a prosthetic implant that might feel different from your typical joint. 

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While the hospital can be an intimidating environment, you’re encouraged to speak up whenever you feel that something is wrong or doesn’t make sense. Raising concerns can ascertain that you understand every step of the way, allowing you to make informed decisions on your joint replacement surgery. 

Additionally, you must also ensure that you’re consulting a reputable doctor before going for joint replacement surgery. A respected doctor has adequate experience in joint replacement surgery and can guide you during the process. If you’re uncertain which doctor to consult for joint replacement surgery, you can check or similar websites. Another way of finding a commendable doctor is by asking for a referral from other doctors they might know. 

  1. Collect All Your Medical Information 

Before surgery, you’ll be required to produce all your medical records and insurance documents. You might also be required to produce documents on legal arrangements. These documents ensure that you receive quality treatment and have updated medical insurance coverage. But since the weeks before the surgery might be stressful, and you might forget or misplace some documents, it’d be best to create a checklist. 

Subsequently, you can then place all the documents in a folder and tick off the checklist when you do. Doing this allows you to present the entire folder or quickly produce specific papers when required to produce any document. More so, organizing your documents makes it easy for you and the healthcare team, who can access all the necessary information for a successful surgery. 

In addition, you might also have to present information on your next of kin or emergency contact; if you’re not in a position to take yourself to the doctor, provide the contacts of whoever will be accompanying you. The person that you list might also be the one who’ll pick you up after surgery and help you throughout the recovery process. This information is intended to provide a contact person for the hospital in case of an emergency. Moreover, they’ll also be briefed on your medication to help remind you when need be. 

Another aspect that you should include in your documentation is the contact information of all the doctors you’re seeing and any underlying conditions you have. The contact information will make it easy for your surgeon to consult the other doctors in case of any issues that might interfere with the procedure. Further, the information on any underlying condition you might have will help your surgeon plan for a procedure that doesn’t affect any other medication you might be on. 

Your medical records will also provide crucial information such as previous surgeries, allergies, and regular medication, including supplements. Once you’ve gathered all this information in a folder, the surgical team will have an easy time curating an appropriate intervention measure; if you’re uncertain of the documents to consolidate, inquire from your doctor about the information that’ll be required during the procedure. 

  1. Prepare Your Body For Surgery 

The success of your joint replacement surgery and recovery depends on the state of your body. You can prepare your body by getting in shape and being healthy in different ways, such as: 

  • Quitting or reducing consumption of alcohol and other narcotic substances, including smoking. It’s essential to note that using substances such as smoking can adversely affect blood circulation, which can delay healing and make you susceptible to infections. Nonetheless, if you must take alcohol, it’d be best to avoid it 48 hours before the procedure. 
  • Ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet, and if possible, try losing weight to ease the recovery process. Your doctor might also explain that being overweight can stress the operated joint, which can slow the recovery time. 
  • Physical exercises can be beneficial and detrimental simultaneously; thus, you should consult your doctor on the proper activities for your procedure. Your doctor can also explain whether there’ll be any physical therapy post-surgery. 

Furthermore, getting your body into shape can also help ensure that you’re strong enough for the surgery and have better chances of a short recovery period. 

  1. Attend Pre-Operative Classes 

While it might seem unnecessary, pre-operative education classes are crucial before surgery and might be recommended by your surgeon. Some of the areas covered in pre-operative classes are how to care for yourself before and after the surgery. Another aspect that’ll be covered during the pre-operative classes is the recovery process and physical therapy program. It’d be best for you to be accompanied by your caregiver for these pre-operative classes, so they can also learn. 

  1. Plan For When Discharged 

It’s not too early to plan for your homecoming after the joint replacement surgery, a major operation that’ll take time to heal. The plan you create should be one that’ll make the recovery process easy and fast. Some of the preparations you can do include: 

  • You can create a meal plan by either preparing foods and preserving them or buying ready meals that’ll be delivered to your home. 
  • You can find a caregiver who’ll assist you around the house and help nurse your new joint. The caregiver can be a family member or friend; if neither is available, you can hire a professional. 
  • You can get rid of rugs or mats that can cause you to slip and fall or contribute to home accidents. 
  • You can ensure that regular items are stored in places that are easily accessible such as drawers. 
  • Rearranging the house furniture to facilitate convenient movement using a walker, crutches, or a wheelchair. 
  • If possible, ensure that all essential rooms, such as the kitchen, bedroom, and washrooms, are on the same level to avoid going up or down the stairs. 
  • You can also consider applying for a temporary disabled parking permit which will help you after the surgery. 
  1. Be Ready For Surgery 

After all the preparations and planning, it’s finally time for the surgery, and you must be adequately prepared. As pointed out earlier, several medical professionals will be involved in the joint replacement surgery, and it’s crucial that they have access to your information. Hence, ensure you’ve carried the folder containing all your data, including medical records. 

Additionally, ensure that you’ve complied with all the instructions your doctor gave before the surgery. The instructions would be based on their evaluation of your overall health and any risks associated with anesthesia. Once the orthopedic surgeon is satisfied that there are low risks of using anesthesia, you’ll discuss it with the anesthesiologist a day before the surgery to decide the best one for you. Some other physical examinations you might be subjected to before the surgery are urine samples, blood tests, an electrocardiogram (EKG), and an X-ray. 

You may also consider speaking to a psychologist or psychiatrist before the procedure to ascertain that you’re psychologically prepared. In the consultation, you can discuss your fears and expectations for the surgery. Moreover, a conversation with them can help ensure you’ll have a clear mind before going into surgery and are prepared for whatever the results will be. 

  1. Indulge In Last Minute Preparations 

Before leaving for the hospital, if you can shower, use an antibacterial soap to clean up. Showering before going to the hospital can help you feel relaxed and clean, reducing the chances of an infection. When showering, ensure you’ve removed any products you might have on, such as makeup. It’s also advisable to remove any nail polish.  

Also, don’t forget to pack a hospital bag containing comfortable clothes, a folder containing all your information and insurance, and personal care items. 


Preparing for surgery can be a trying experience; you must be prepared physically and psychologically for it to succeed. However, before being busy doing the preparations needed, consult with your doctor to understand the procedure and what is required of you before, during, and after the procedure. It’s also essential to get someone who’ll accompany you throughout the process, as they can help you remember instructions and any other important things you might have missed. Most importantly, make sure you’re taking care of yourself.