Eight ways to prepare for knee replacement surgery

If you’re experiencing reduced mobility and knee pain, you may need a knee replacement. This surgery is commonly performed in those between the ages of 60 and 80 and involves replacing the damaged knee joint with an artificial joint. 

Several conditions can result in you needing a knee joint replacement, including rheumatoid arthritis, gout or an injury. Whichever condition means you need knee replacement surgery, you’ll need to make sure you’re fully prepared for your operation.

To make sure you’re ready for your surgery and have everything you need for your recovery, here are eight things you should do beforehand. 

1. Find out what to expect

It’s important to know what to expect before, during and after your surgery. Your GP or surgeon can give you information and advice to ensure you’re as prepared as possible.

Feel free to ask them questions about the surgery itself, what you should be doing to prepare and how long your recovery is likely to take. If you have any concerns, make sure you ask them in advance of your hospital stay so you can be sure you’re making an informed decision.

2. Start exercising

To make sure you can recover well from your surgery, keep as active as possible beforehand. This will help you to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your knee so they can better support your new joint.

Remember, you’ll need crutches or a walker during your recovery, so building some upper body strength will also help with your mobility immediately after your surgery.

Your GP can provide a list of recommended exercises and stretches to include as part of your daily routine. If in doubt, try some low-impact exercises, such as swimming, which will reduce pressure on your knee while still working your muscles.

3. Lose excess weight

Excess weight can be a big problem for your knees, adding strain and reducing mobility. To help with your recovery and to protect your future knee health, it’s a good idea to lose as much excess weight as possible.

A calorie-controlled diet and increased exercise in the months and weeks before your surgery can help you lower your weight. It’s worth asking your GP whether this is needed in your particular case and if so, what weight you should be aiming for.

4. Say goodbye to smoking

Not only is smoking bad for your health, but it can also put you at risk for complications from your knee replacement surgery. Smoking can increase your healing time, thin your blood and put you at a higher risk of infection.

Nicotine replacements are not a good idea when you’re trying to quit smoking before your surgery. This is because nicotine is in part responsible for certain post-surgery complications. You will therefore need to quit smoking and avoid using nicotine replacements before your surgery and continue to avoid smoking during your recovery.

If you’re struggling to quit, your GP can point you in the right direction to get help and support.

5. Check your medications

Some medications can increase your risk of complications during surgery, so you should check if any of the medications you’re taking are on this list by speaking with your GP or surgeon.

Some drugs can make it difficult for blood to clot while others suppress your immune system so it’s harder to fight off infections after surgery.

You may need to stop taking these in the weeks before your surgery to avoid complications with the procedure itself or with your healing.

6. Arrange help

Recovery is easier if you have people to help you, so make sure you arrange for help from friends and family before your surgery. You will need someone to drive you home from the hospital and to stay with you for a few days to help you around the house.

Consider getting help with your shopping, bringing in the post and even someone to help tidy up. This will ensure you can focus all of your energy on recovering at your own pace without putting extra strain on your new joint.

7. Rearrange your home

After surgery, as you recover, your mobility will be limited and you will need to use a walker or crutches. This puts you at a greater risk of trips and falls. So make sure you move any potential trip hazards, such as rugs and trailing wires before your surgery. Also, make sure you have enough space to easily get around with your post-surgery walking aid.

If your bedroom is upstairs, you may need to arrange a room to sleep in downstairs until you are able to manage the stairs again. Similarly, make sure everything you need, such as your phone, TV remote, glasses, etc are within easy reach.

8. Get your hospital bag packed

It’s important to make sure you have packed everything you’ll need for your hospital stay. This includes toiletries, medication, comfortable, loose-fitting clothes, slippers with full-backs, flat shoes, your glasses or contact lenses and your mobile phone and charger. You may also want to pack things to keep yourself entertained such as books or magazines.

You’ll also need to bring any walking aids you were using before surgery. If you’re unsure about what to pack, you can ask your GP what you’ll need based on how long you’re likely to be in the hospital.

We hope you've found this article useful, however, it cannot be a substitute for a consultation with a specialist

If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.

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Cahoot Care Marketing

Niched in the care sector, Cahoot Care Marketing offers a full range of marketing services for care businesses including: SEO, social media, websites and video marketing, specialising in copywriting and content marketing.

Over the last five years Cahoot Care Marketing has built an experienced team of writers and editors, with broad and deep expertise on a range of care topics. They provide a responsive, efficient and comprehensive service, ensuring content is on brand and in line with relevant medical guidelines.

Their writers and editors include care sector workers, healthcare copywriting specialists and NHS trainers, who thoroughly research all topics using reputable sources including the NHS, NICE, relevant Royal Colleges and medical associations.

The Spire Content Hub project was managed by:

Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager

Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences. Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.

Catriona Shaw, Lead Editor

Catriona has an English degree from the University of Southampton and more than 12 years’ experience copy editing across a range of complex topics. She works with a diverse team of writers to create clear and compelling copy to educate and inform.

Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing

Alfie has a creative writing degree from UCF and initially worked as a carer before supporting his family’s care training business with copywriting and general marketing. He has worked in content marketing and the care sector for over 10 years and overseen a diverse range of care content projects, building a strong team of specialist writers and marketing creatives after founding Cahoot in 2016.