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CARE TOOLS: Preparing for Knee Surgery (General)


The Surgical Suite

Preparing for Knee Surgery (General)

3-5 Weeks Prior to Surgery
One Week Prior to Surgery
The Night Before Surgery
Directly After Surgery
Weeks Following Procedure


Your knee has troubled you long enough, and you have elected to have the problem mended before it gets any worse. What is the next step? Knee1's exclusive Surgical Suite guide will walk you through the process from beginning to end. This synopsis gives a general guide for what to expect from any knee surgery. This guide provides a general guide to preparation for your surgery, and is not meant to replace the advice or treatment by your doctor or physical therapist.

3-5 Weeks Prior to Surgery:

After the date has been set for your surgery, you should begin preparing for it. Keep your diet healthy and eliminate smoking and alcohol consumption as much as possible. Avoid any drastic weight loss, unless recommended by your doctor, as this may throw off your internal balance and may weaken your immune system. Your doctor may recommend a strength-training program to improve your recovery time and perfect the alignment of your legs prior to surgery.

Check in with your doctor's office: make sure that your most recent insurance information, medical history, and prescriptions are on file. In addition, make sure you understand the surgery. This site has many resources that explain your causes, risks, and recovery associated with your specific knee surgery. In addition, do not be afraid to ask your doctor questions.

Depending on the procedure you are undergoing, you may be off your feet for a good deal of time. Make sure you understand what amount of time your knee will need to recover, and plan accordingly. Ask your doctor whether household modifications, such as a raised toilet seat or a lift on your bed, may be appropriate. Discuss your surgery with a friend, family member, or roommate to determine if they will be your "helper" after the surgery: someone to drive you home, make sure you are comfortable, and help you carry out the doctor's post-operative instructions. If your doctor feels you will need to take time off, make arrangements with your employers or instructors to do so.

One Week Prior to Surgery:

You may be called in for pre-operative Range-of-Motion tests, blood work, CT Scans, MRIs, X-rays, or other tests. These should be done at least two days before the surgery. In the week before the procedure, you should also stop taking aspirin or any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These include ibuproferin (Advil or Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and naproxen (Aleve), as these may interfere with clotting during or directly after the surgery. It may be a good idea to donate your own blood prior to the surgery, should the surgeon need it on hand. Make sure that both you and your appointed "helper" know the way to and from the hospital, as you will not be able to drive yourself home after the surgery. Pick up a book or movie, as you will be off your feet for a while. You may want to cook meals a few nights before and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer so that they will be easily heated up after the surgery. If you are not a cook, collect a few delivery menus.

The Night Before Surgery:

Although you may be a little jittery, try to relax. Eat a sensible meal and go to bed early. Remove any jewelry you are wearing, and collect your insurance information, medications and directions to the hospital. Bathing the night before or the morning of surgery is recommended. Arrive early for the surgery-you do not want to rush to the hospital.

Directly After Surgery:

You will feel woozy as you come out of your general or even local anesthetic. A continuous passive motion machine may be hooked to your leg to reduce post-operative stiffness in the knee. You may feel sleepy, disoriented, and even nauseous after the procedure. As the medication wears off, you may also experience pain in the joint.

Pay attention to the doctor's instructions-you may want to have your "helper" listen, as well-as he or she explains your post-operative course. The doctor will explain to you how and for how long to use crutches, ice the knee, dress your surgical wound, bathe, and perform exercises to increase your range of motion and leg strength. Although leg lifts and bends are common after surgery, they should not be done unless a doctor orders them.

Weeks Following Procedure:

Your recovery will seem far slower than it really is. Gradually, by working with your doctor or physical therapist (under a doctor's orders), you will regain the strength you had in the leg before your injury through physical therapy. Exercises may include weight-training, flexion and extension, leg lifts and squats, deep knee bends, walking and cycling. These should only be done under the supervision of your doctor or physical therapist. Do not overdo it. Pushing yourself too hard or too fast will set your recovery back.


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