Be as healthy as possible. Eat healthy foods, drink lots of fluids, and get plenty of rest and exercise. Use Canada's Food Guide to choose the type and amount of food you need for good health. Healthy eating before surgery will help you:
- reduce the risk of illness that may delay your surgery or make it more difficult
- build up iron in your blood to increase your energy level and help your body fight infections
- reach and stay at a healthy weight – being just 4.5 kg (10 lbs) overweight increases the force on your knees by 13.5 kg to 27 kg (30 lbs to 60 lbs) each time you take a step
Look after health problems before surgery. This especially includes problems with your teeth and eyesight, with the prostate (a male gland), and with the urinary tract, which enables you to urinate. Have prescriptions for medications refilled.
Get dental work done. You must have any problems with your teeth taken care of before surgery. This will reduce the risk of infection after surgery. Get your teeth cleaned. Make sure all the work that must be done on your teeth is completed. Your surgery will be delayed if this is not done.
Find a buddy. Your buddy will be your main support helping with the many things that must be done before and after surgery and while you are in the hospital. Your Case Manager at the Hip and Knee Replacement Clinic will ask for the name of your buddy.
Arrange for support after surgery. You will most likely be in the hospital 2 to 3 days. Talk to your buddy and other friends or family members about your surgery and explain how they can help once you return home. Some of the ways they can help you are:
- doing housework and yard work, driving, shopping and making meals
- taking you to and from appointments
- staying with you, if you live alone and need help
- giving you medication by needle
- helping with your bandages
If someone depends on you for care, arrange for someone else to give the care while you are recovering.
Quit (or cut down on) smoking. It will take longer to heal if you smoke. If you need help to quit smoking, go to Alberta Quits. Note: You will not be allowed to smoke anywhere on hospital property.
Get your home ready for your recovery. Make it as easy and safe as possible to get around your home after surgery by doing some simple things ahead of time:
- Arrange items in the kitchen and other areas of your home so you can reach them without bending too much or twisting your operated leg.
- Adjust the height of your bed so that the top of the mattress is 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) above your knee.
- Position your furniture so that you have space to move around safely using a walker or crutches.
- Remove loose mats or clutter that could cause you to trip or slip.
- Install handrails on stairways. If you cannot install handrails, arrange to have someone help you go up and down stairs when you first arrive home.
- Make sure you have the right type of chair (see “Managing at Home” ).
- If you have a tub with a shower door, take off the door and replace it with a shower curtain.
- Have all of the equipment you will need for your recovery in place 1 to 2 weeks before your surgery (see “Equipment Needed After Knee Replacement Surgery” ). Having the equipment in place ahead of time will give you the chance to practice with it before surgery so that you can manage more easily and safely once you return home.
Get heavy housework done ahead of time. Do laundry, vacuuming and other heavy work around the house before your surgery.
Plan for your food needs. Stock up on groceries and make frozen meals.
Arrange your transportation. You could be released from the hospital at any time of the day. Make plans to have your buddy available to pick you up at any time.
Improve the health of your blood. You may be asked to join a program to make your blood healthier. Studies show that patients with healthy blood before surgery are less likely to need donated blood during surgery, spend less time in the hospital, and recover more quickly.
Stay active and do your exercises. Continue to do all your regular activities. Begin right away to build strength in your legs, arms and stomach by doing simple exercises. Doing these exercises before your surgery will help you get moving again after surgery.
Ask questions. Be sure you understand what will be done and what you are agreeing to when you sign the form for surgery. Read your guide before going to your Hip and Knee Replacement teaching class and write down your questions or concerns. Review the risks of surgery.
Instructions before Surgery
Your surgeon and Case Manager will tell you which of your prescription and non-prescription medications to stop taking before surgery.
Tell your Case Manager before your surgery if:
- you have allergies to medications or metals
- your medications have changed
- there have been any changes in your health
It is very important that you:
- do not use any lotions or creams of any kind on your legs beginning 5 days before your surgery
- do not drink alcohol beginning 48 hours before your surgery
- do not eat after midnight on the night before your surgery. You may drink clear fluids up until 4 hours before your surgery. Clear fluids include water, black tea or coffee, carbonated beverages, pulp-free juices or gelatine desserts such as Jello. DO NOT DRINK milk, cream or juices containing pulp.
For more information, see:
Knee Replacement Surgery
Last reviewed: January 31, 2013
Author: Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute