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How to Prepare for Orthopedic Surgery

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on Jun 4, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Going in to the hospital for surgery can be a difficult and anxious time for anyone. For some people having surgery is manageable, for others it can be one of the most anxiety provoking experiences they have ever faced.

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Wherever you are on that spectrum, there are steps you can take to make the experience a more positive one. You'll find that the entire orthopedic team at Johnson Memorial Health is dedicated to providing a compassionate and caring experience for all patients.

Your surgeon's office will inform you of the necessary preparations for surgery, which may include X-rays, pre-operative medical exams, blood tests and surgical scheduling.

Because orthopedic surgery involves the bones and joints, you may be less mobile than normal after surgery. You may need to consider your situation and resources when planning your care. 

Before Surgery

Do I really need surgery? Some surgeries are optional and some are not. The decision to have surgery, especially an optional one, should be well thought out. You need to know potential risks, outcomes, and benefits of the procedure. You shouldn't hesitate to ask for a second opinion even if you are planning to use your current doctor. 
 
Find the right doctor. The most important step after deciding that surgery is necessary is finding the right doctor. You want to trust and be comfortable with the your surgeon. Don't be afraid to ask about how often they have performed the surgery you will be having. You want someone who is competent and has a good record of performing the procedure you need.
 
Understand the procedure. This may seem obvious, but you will likely have a lot of questions. Don't be afraid to ask! You should understand the procedure, know any risks, and know what you can do to improve the results.
 
Prepare for Surgery. Studies have shown that there are several factors that can impact the outcome of a procedure. People who have healthy eating habits, exercise, and don't smoke recover more quickly from procedures. If you know you have an upcoming surgery, try the following:
 
  • Don't smoke. It sounds like a simple instruction, but it can be incredibly difficult. Smoking can change blood flow patterns delays healing, and increases recovery times. If you smoke, there is no better time to stop!
     
  • Eat well. Our bodies use food for fuel and to rebuild itself. When you are recovering from surgery, you may feel as though you are laying around all day, but your body is working hard to rebuild and heal. Healing requires a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of nutrients.
     
  • Exercise. It will be hard to do your physical therapy after surgery if you are not in shape before surgery. For most people, a regular exercise routine of walking, cycling, or swimming a few times a week is enough to prepare their body for the upcoming surgery and therapies that follow. This should be enough to prepare your body for the demands of therapy, which will already be hard right after surgery. Don't make recovery even harder on yourself by being out of shape! If you can talk to your physical therapist before surgery, you can discuss what types of exercises will be the most helpful in preparing for the future

Day of Surgery

The hospital will give you complete instructions before the procedure. Follow these instructions carefully. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to call.

On the day of the surgery, you will want to arrive early. Often, there will be paperwork to fill out before you get started. Be sure that you haven't had anything to eat or drink. The anesthesia requires an empty stomach. Finally, you will want to limit the amount of personal belongings that you bring along with you. Just bring what you know that you will need. 

After Surgery

Many people think that it's all over once the surgery is over, but that isn't usually the case. Sometimes, the procedure is the easiest part o the process. During the recovery process, the patient can take control of their own care. Because of this, patients can affect the outcome and results of the procedure. 

Immediately following the surgery, you will wake up in a recovery room. More often than not, patient's do not remember this room because the anesthesia is still making them groggy while it is wearing off. Once the anesthesia has worn off you will likely be reunited with your friends or family. Depending on what procedure you had, you will go to your inpatient room or be sent home with discharge instructions.

Those patients who follow post-operative protocol exactly will heal much more quickly and achieve better results when compared to those who do not complete their therapy and post-operative instructions as directed. It's important that you understand the goals and potential outcomes of therapy and that you know what is expected of you. Be sure to discuss these goals with your therapists and doctors.

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Topics: Surgery, Orthopedic