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How to Prepare for Orthopedic Surgery

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on May 30, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Surgery isn’t easy. For some, it’s especially anxiety provoking— but it doesn’t have to be.


Whether you take the anticipation in stride or feel a little nervous and uncertain, knowing what to expect can make your 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.

Once your surgery is scheduled, your surgeon's office will give you all the details you need for preparing for your surgery. This may include x-rays, preoperative medical exams, blood tests and surgical scheduling.

While, each surgery and patient is different, expect to be less mobile than normal after the procedure. After all, your surgery does involve your bones and joints and they need time for recovery. Plan ahead of time for some assistance or making arrangements to make aftercare easier.

Do I really need surgery?

Some surgeries are optional and some are not. Asking if you really need surgery is a valid question. When deciding whether to go ahead with a recommended surgery take into consideration:

  • Potential risks
  • Outcomes
  • Benefits of the procedure
  • Timing
  • Aftercare needs

Don’t hesitate to ask for a second opinion even if you are planning to use your current doctor.

Before Surgery

Find the right doctor. Once you’ve decided to move forward with your surgery, make sure you are comfortable with and trust 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! There’s no question too big or small and you should understand the procedure, know any risks, and know what you can do to improve the results before going into your surgery.

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. Talk to your doctor about timing and cessation tips. With an upcoming surgery, smoking can change blood flow patterns that delay 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. Look for foods rich in protein, vitamin C and iron.
  • Exercise. 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. Establish an exercise routine before surgery! Afterall, it takes time to develop a habit, so don’t delay. Talk to your aftercare physical therapist before the surgery to 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 of 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. Johnson Memorial Orthopedic Specialists want to make your surgery as successful and comfortable as possible.

Topics: Surgery, Orthopedic