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Preparing for a knee replacement

How to Properly Prepare for a Total Knee Replacement

You were just told that you need to have a total knee replacement. A plethora of emotions are running through your head. You may be wondering if your insurance will cover the necessary treatments or if you can afford to take the time off of work. 

If you have a family to take care of you may be worrying about who will pick up the slack while you are recovering. Even though it may be difficult to know when to have a knee replacement, if you plan ahead it is less stressful. These and any other concerns you may be having are totally valid and should all be considered before taking the plunge and going ‘under the knife’. 

The best way to relieve these stressful emotions is to get prepared prior to surgery. Having a plan before your total knee replacement is the best way to reduce complications and ensure that you have a successful outcome. 

The following information will guide you through the steps that you should take prior to having any surgical procedure. 

Strengthening Before a Total Knee Replacement

It is always a good idea to stay in shape and strengthening your muscles prior to having surgery is no exception. You may be in pain and think to yourself; How can I exercise if I am hurting so bad that I can barely get around? 

Properly Preparing for a Knee Replacement The best way to deal with this issue is to talk with your doctor or physical therapist about some low impact exercises that will help build your muscles without causing additional damage.

It has been proven in many research studies that the people who do Physical Therapy prior to surgery recover faster, with lower levels of pain, and are back to sports such as golf sooner.

It has also been shown to decrease the length of stay in the hospital after surgery. Who doesn’t want to go home faster!!

Plus your Physical Therapist may be able to give the most important exercises immediately after surgery to help with range of motion and pain control as soon as possible.

Cram that Cardio and Get in Shpare for an Expedited Recovery

Get your blood pumping! This goes hand in hand with the next section. Strengthening your heart and lungs is important because post-surgery they have to work twice as hard to heal you. 

Recumbent elliptical for knee painThe stronger your heart and lungs are the better they can supply the necessary supply of blood and oxygen through your body for a speedy recovery. Your body will be stronger, healthier, and happier after surgery. 

Simply put, the better shape and most weight loss you can achieve the faster your recovery will be. You might be asking how you can exercise when your knee hurts.

Tip: We recommend using a recumbent elliptical to decrease forces on the knee while still getting all of the benefits from exercise.

Put a Pause on the Smoking

This is often the step that most people freak out about. Let’s face it; when you are told that you need to quit smoking, you end up smoking more. It’s basic psychology, just like when you were a kid and your parents told you no more candy, you probably still tried to sneak a few pieces just because they said not to. 

Quit Smoking

When you are a smoker it is very difficult to quit, especially when you are under stress. Most people would qualify that having surgery is quite stressful, so quitting can be especially challenging during this time.  

As unbearable as it may be, it is still highly recommended that you quit prior to surgery and remain smoke-free until you have recovered. If you continue to quit post-recovery then that is just an added bonus. 

There are many medical professionals that will not perform surgery on someone who smokes. The reasoning behind this is that smoking restricts the oxygen to your bloodstream and muscle tissues which greatly hinders the healing process.  

In situations where bones are being fused, it is especially important to quit smoking, because the bones will not heal and fuse properly due to the lack of oxygen flowing to the necessary tissue. 

Lose as Much Weight as Possible

What happens if you are lifting a vehicle up to work on it and the jack cannot support the weight of the car? The jack breaks and the car crashes to the ground. The same thing can happen with your knee joints. 

Your knees are one of the most important joints in your body. They help you walk, bend, and make a great lap for your grandchildren to sit on. Reducing the amount of weight that is being put on your joints will significantly improve your quality of life.

For every 10 pounds of weight loss, it equals 40 pounds of weight reduction on your knee joint.

With less weight, you move around better and your overall health will improve. People often take their physical health for granted until something no longer works properly or causes them pain.  

Save Serious Stress by Stocking Up Early

Another way that you can reduce the amount of stress before and after your surgery is to stock up on any supplies that you will need during recovery. Make sure you have a plan for getting your groceries and personal supplies while you are recovering as well. Think about stocking up on:

  • Pain medication
  • Ice packs or an ice machine
  • A toilet riser
  • A leg lifter
  • Easy to cook meals and snacks
  • Toilet paper and bathroom supplies

Get Your House Ready for Limited Mobility

You have your supplies stocked. Now you need to consider the layout of your home. Are you able to move around with a walker? Do you hav a bathroom on the bottom floor? Are there stairs to the master bedroom? 

If your bedroom is on the second floor you may want to consider moving your sleeping quarters to the main floor if at all possible while you are recovering to avoid any accidental falls going up and down the stairs.

Picking up clutter for knee replacement

Also, think about tripping hazards that you might not normally think about. Pick up throw rugs, move dog beds, scoot furniture further apart, have all the supplies close by that you need to bathe and clean. 

Talk to Your Insurance Company

Have you met your deductible for the year? What procedures and treatments are covered? These are all questions that you need to think about prior to surgery. 

There is nothing worse than going under the knife thinking that you are covered only to receive an astronomical medical bill six months down the road because your insurance company did not cover some random laboratory fee or test. 

Tip: Write down the employee name and number who confirmed that your surgery and rehab with covered or at what percentage.

Example: Did you know that many hospitals/medical facilities will have their medical imaging sent out to be read by other medical professionals? Many times your insurance will not cover the fee for that random doctor to look at your X-ray or MRI and you end up with the bill. 

Invest in Supplemental Insurance

If you have the chance to think ahead and you have Medicare then absolutely get supplemental insurance for one year at least. This will help cover the extra costs of surgery and rehab.

What happens after your surgery when you are out of work and you have no income? This is probably the biggest stressor for most individuals. How are you going to pay your everyday living expenses if you are unable to work? It may be beneficial to look into supplemental income insurance such as Aflac™ or Old Mutual™ to help plan your time off. 

Properly Preparing Prevents Post-Op Headaches

Be proactive in your life and take the proper steps to prepare for your total knee replacement now. Avoiding these helpful tips can result in a very stressful and possibly unsuccessful outcome. If you plan properly you will have all of the help and resources that you need before, during, and after your surgery. 

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.

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