10 Tips for Positive Outcomes

Better Informed, Better Outcomes – For Patients Considering Joint Replacement Surgery

The process of hip joint, knee joint, and shoulder joint replacement surgery can be physically and psychologically intense. Patients who are better prepared tend to achieve better outcomes.

Following these tips, in addition to completing a pre-op checklist, can help you achieve optimal results.

  1. Find an experienced surgeon.
    You will be seeing your orthopedic surgeon for years to come. Be sure you are comfortable with your doctor's approach, level of experience, and personality.
  2. Learn about the surgery.
    Find out everything you can about pre-op preparations, the procedure, post-op care, precautions, and possible complications. Ask your doctor to go over your surgical plan, outcomes, and long-term care in detail.
  3. Seek a second opinion.
    Your surgeon should honor your right to confer with another well-respected orthopedist if you have any doubts.
  4. Compare the benefits and risks.
    Consider how your life will improve by eliminating pain and increasing mobility versus the low risks of potential complications.
  5. Talk with joint replacement recipients.
    Hearing about other's successes can help you gain perspective and ease your mind. Ask to speak with other patients.
  6. Keep a positive attitude.
    Realize it is normal to feel nervous or anxious before surgery, and focus instead on the high rate of success for total joint procedures and visualize getting your life back.
  7. Plan your time off.
    Schedule surgery when you can afford to be off work and with the least disruption to your family. Remember you will be recovering for about six weeks. Organize, schedule appointments, and take care of as much business as possible before surgery. Install needed adaptive or assistive equipment, practice walking using crutches and walkers, and prearrange for help.
  8. Maintain your health.
    Take multivitamins and eat well-balanced meals before surgery to promote better healing. If you have any infection anywhere in your body, talk with your doctor about postponing your surgery.
  9. Make recovery your priority.
    Consider your rehabilitation as an investment in better health. Devote the time to rest and recuperation, and realize your "job" as regaining your strength and mobility through your physical therapy and post-op exercises.
  10. Be an active participant.
    Make a commitment to do your part to ensure a positive outcome and assume responsibility for your own care, such as following precautions and doing your rehabilitation exercises daily. Consult with your orthopedic surgeon with questions or concerns.

Adapted from:

Eustice, Carol and Richard. "20 Tips to Help You Prepare for Surgery." About.com 26 November 2008. 22 May 2009 http://arthritis.about.com/od/surgicaltreatments/a/tipsforsurgery.htm.