Having surgery on your spine, hips, knees, or joints is a big deal. Not only is the surgery itself serious, the recovery can be tough. After surgery, you'll be sore, you'll be more susceptible to infection, and you may need to do extensive physical therapy to regain the full use of your body. For all of those reasons, it's important to take as many steps as you can before the surgery to ensure a good outcome during recovery. Here are some of the most important things that you will need to do to prepare yourself for your orthopedic surgery.
If you're a smoker, you are probably already aware that your habit carries health risks and that any time is a good time to quit. Maybe you just haven't found the right cessation method for yourself yet, or you haven't felt particularly motivated to stop. Whatever the reason, the time leading up to orthopedic surgery is definitely the time to get motivated and quit smoking.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, scientific studies show that cigarette smoking has a harmful effect on the musculoskeletal system. Tobacco usage can speed disk degeneration and worsen conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis. It can also delay ligament healing. Clinical studies also point to cigarette smoking as an important risk factor for postoperative infections and complications.
If you're a smoker, it's important to discuss your habit with your surgeon prior to surgery. Your orthopedic surgeon needs to know in order to create a treatment plan to meet your needs. The doctor may be able to recommend smoking cessation resources that you weren't aware of to help you kick the habit before you get into the operating room.
See Your Dentist
Making a dentist appointment may be the last thing on your mind when you're worried about undergoing surgery. What do your teeth have to do with your orthopedic operation? More than you may think. A dental checkup is a very important step for ensuring that you have a smooth recovery and a lower risk of postsurgical infection.
You need to visit the dentist before your surgery to rule out any chance that you have an infection in your mouth. Your mouth is full of bacteria on a regular basis. Most of the time that's a good thing. That bacteria is a normal part of your digestive system and actually beneficial to your health. But when you have an infection, the blood vessels in your mouth enlarge and can be more easily penetrated by that bacteria, which can then spread to other parts of your body. And bacteria that's healthy and normal in your mouth could cause a major infection if it ends up in your surgical site. Seeing your dentist, and taking a prescribed antibiotic if you do have a dental infection of any kind, can help head off this type of postsurgical infection.
Prepare Your Home
You'll most likely begin your physical therapy in the hospital before you're released, and unless your doctor says otherwise, you should be able to fend for yourself at home without constant care by the time the release forms are signed. However, your house will need some adjustments for your safety, and it's best to make these before the surgery.
Clear the floors of any small items or rugs that could be easily tripped over. Make sure that you have furniture in the house that will be comfortable for sitting in after the surgery. You may have difficulty sitting down in, or getting up out of, couches and chairs that are particularly plush or low to the ground, so make sure that you have a higher chair with arms for your comfort – borrow or buy one if you don't have one. Cook some meals ahead of time and freeze them so that you don't have to spend long hours standing in the kitchen right after surgery – or, stock up on pre-prepared meals and take out menus, if you prefer. If you have a multilevel home, and the floor that you spend the most time on doesn't have a bathroom, invest in a portable toilet for that floor. You'll find that climbing stairs is tiring and difficult during the first few days after leaving the hospital.
Finally, while you may not need constant care after leaving the hospital, you should arrange for a friend or family member to at least check in on you once or twice a day and be available by telephone in case of emergency. If you have small children or pets to care for, you will definitely need some assistance while recuperating. Don't expect to be able to do it all yourself.
The more thoroughly you prepare for your orthopedic surgery, the easier your recovery will be. Don't forget to ask your surgeon for specific surgery preparation tips for your unique medical needs. Visit http://www.towncenterorthopaedics.com for more information.