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Preparing for orthopaedic surgery

The weeks and months before your hip replacement, knee replacement or shoulder replacement surgery can be busy. To help you prepare for a smooth, successful hospital stay and recovery, plan ahead with these steps.

Well before your joint surgery

Register with the hospital

Once your surgery has been scheduled, Great Plains Health or your surgeon's office will contact you with instructions.

Get lab tests

You will need to schedule a time for lab tests to be done. Your surgeon will give you a letter that tells you which tests you need before your surgery.

Get medical and anesthesia clearance

Your surgical team needs to be aware of any health conditions you have in order to avoid potential problems during surgery. So you'll need a brief checkup by your primary care doctor to get medical and anesthesia clearance for surgery. Your surgeon's office will help you make the appointment.

Be sure to ask your primary care doctor if you need to make any changes to your medications. Some may increase your chance of bleeding. If you are currently taking a blood thinner, like Coumadin, Xarelto, Plavix, Pradaxa, Lovenox or Aggrenox, your doctor will give you special dosing instructions for stopping these medications. Don't stop taking any medication unless told to do so by your doctor.

Get your home ready

Preparing now for your homecoming will make your days after joint surgery much more relaxed.

Attend a joint class

Every patient must take a class before joint replacement surgery at Great Plains Health. It's designed to give you the opportunity to meet staff and other patients. You'll be given valuable information to help prepare you for the days and weeks to come. And the staff will answer any questions or concerns you have.

Your surgeon's office will give you the date and time to attend. If you aren’t given a date, call Great Plains Health Orthopaedics at 308.568.3800.

We strongly recommend that you attend the class with your coach. That can be a spouse, friend or family member who will help care for you after surgery. The coach will be at your side, helping you with your exercises, keeping you motivated and generally doing what is necessary to get you back on your feet again and enjoying life.

Start your pre-op exercises

Over the years, joint pain prevents many people from exercising. This lack of activity tends to weaken the muscles. It is important to start strengthening your muscles before surgery in order to get a jumpstart on your recovery.

Start other healthy habits

How you treat your body in the weeks before and after surgery has a direct effect on how fast you will heal. A little preparation now will make a big difference later. For example:

  • If you smoke, try to quit—or at least cut back.
  • Avoid alcohol, especially 48 hours before surgery.
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in iron, protein, vitamin C and calcium.

Donate blood

During surgery, you will lose some blood. In most cases, your body can replace the blood on its own without a transfusion. If a transfusion is needed, the blood is usually supplied by a blood bank.

Some people prefer to use their own blood, which they donate before surgery. Using your own blood ensures a perfect blood type match and decreases the risk of infection.

If you decide to donate this way, your blood will not be used by anyone else. And there may be a charge for the service. Contact your local American Red Cross center to learn more.

10 days before your joint surgery

Stop medications that increase bleeding

Follow your doctor's directions. You may need to stop taking certain prescription drugs, over-the-counter pain medications or even some vitamins. This includes blood thinners, aspirin, Motrin, naproxen, glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and vitamin E. If you need pain relief during this time, you can use Tylenol.

The night before your joint surgery

Pack for your stay

Leave jewelry, valuables and large amounts of cash at home. Bring the following items with you to the hospital:

  • Photo ID.
  • Insurance card.
  • Contact phone numbers.
  • Your current medications or a list of what you normally take.
  • Personal hygiene items (toothbrush, deodorant, comb, brush).
  • Three changes of clothes (underwear, socks, loose-fitting tops and bottoms).
  • Shoes with good support and tread (no sandals or flip-flops).
  • Sleepwear.

Shower carefully

Shower using the packet of antibacterial soap given to you at your joint class. Pay special attention to the hip, knee or shoulder that will be operated on.

Do not shave or remove any hair from the surgical area before surgery. This may cause small raised bumps and could cause your surgery to be delayed or canceled.

Be sure to use a clean washcloth, towel, pajamas and bed linens.

Don't eat or drink after midnight

Take any recommended medications before bed. Do not eat or drink after midnight. This includes water, chewing gum and medications. Eating or drinking after midnight could postpone your surgery.

If you have diabetes, do not take your oral or injected medication the morning of surgery. Tell the hospital staff that you have diabetes, and they will let you know what to do.

If you normally take medications in the morning, bring them with you to the hospital. The nurse will give you instructions.

Have a question about getting ready for surgery?

Call Great Plains Health Orthopaedics in North Platte at 308.568.3800 to speak with one of our experienced staff members.

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