Once you've chosen surgery
Having a joint replaced is like going on a journey. You have to fully commit before you start. Reaching your destination is best achieved through a strong partnership between you and your "recovery buddy," and your Orthopedic Surgery team.
Appointments before surgery
Once you have decided surgery is in your near future, we will help set you up for success. Your journey starts by completing the following appointments:
Dental checkup – Schedule a dental exam within three months of surgery. Severe gum disease, an abscess or other oral infection could delay surgery. The soonest you can have your teeth cleaned after surgery is three months, so take care of this now.
Preadmission appointment – During this two-hour appointment, you will:
- Review medicine you take with a nurse or pharmacist.
- Receive instructions to prepare you for surgery.
- Meet with the anesthesia staff to discuss your options for anesthesia during surgery.
- Possibly have a surgical history and physical exam by a provider.
- If needed, complete lab work or other testing, such as an EKG or chest X-ray.
Total Joint Academy – This is a required, two-hour educational session with an orthopedic nurse. Among the many things you'll learn include:
- Exercises to strengthen and train muscles to support your new joint before surgery
- Home safety
- Selecting a "recovery buddy"
- Scheduling physical therapy
- Much more
Pre-op appointment – Scheduled about one week before surgery, this appointment will allow you to:
- Meet with your orthopedic surgery team for about 45 minutes. Come prepared to ask questions. You may also have a pre-operative history and physical with an orthopedic provider.
- Complete hospital registration, which takes about 10 minutes. A staff member from Revenue Cycle will go over insurance coverage and surgical costs.
Preparations at home
The majority of total joint replacement patients at Gundersen spend one night in the hospital and continue their recovery at home. To help you recover safely, we recommend preparing your home ahead of time. Here's how:
- Buy or borrow a walker or cane.
- Choose the entrance to your home which will be easiest when you are using a walker. Add one or two handrails if there are none.
- Ear stairway needs at least one good handrail.
- Decide which pathways you will follow from room to room. Be sure they are clear of cords, rugs and other clutter. The path from your bedroom to the bathroom is most important.
- Arrange your kitchen for easy reaching after surgery. Put the utensils, dishes and containers you are most likely to use between waist and shoulder height.
- If you do not have a cell phone or cordless phone, arrange to borrow one.
- Have grab bars installed in your shower. Use a non-skid mat. Rent or buy a bath seat.
- Rent or buy a raised toilet seat and safety rails, or a commode.
- Have someone help you change the position of your bed. You need to make it easy to get into bed and out of bed. Create a path around it wide enough for a walker.
Watch the short video on how to prep at home
Preparing for a safe recovery: Home safety tips
Exercises and resources for your journey
It's normal to feel overwhelmed with information after you decide to have surgery. Just remember that your Orthopedics team is with you on this journey and will provide necessary education along the way.
The Joint Replacement Roadmap provides a high-level look at what you can expect along the way.
Joint Replacement Roadmap
Watch the following videos to learn more about safely returning to activities of daily living and recommended exercises you should do before and after surgery:
Knee exercises and massage
Knee strengthening exercises
If you've had your knee replaced, wear compression wraps for 4-6 weeks following surgery to decrease swelling.
Our Total Joint Replacement Workbooks will help prepare you for the best possible results before, during and after surgery. You will receive a hard copy at your visit when surgery is scheduled or at your Total Joint Academy education visit. We ask that you bring this workbook to the hospital and to all follow-up appointments with Physical and Occupational Therapy. It is available here anytime for your reference.
Your joint replacement journey