11 Ways to Prepare for Knee Replacement

  • Woman talking with doctor
    A Little Planning Goes a Long Way
    Proper planning in the days and weeks before knee replacement surgery can make a big difference in your surgical outcome, as well as your long-term health. These steps are recommended to ensure a speedier, safer recovery afterward.

  • Doctor explaining to patient
    1. Learn What to Expect
    A few weeks before surgery, talk through the procedure with your doctor. Note such details as where you'll go and when to arrive, how long the surgery will take, and what type of anesthesia and implant you'll receive. The more you understand, the more psychologically prepared you'll be.

  • Three senior black women exercising together
    2. Do Your Exercises
    Strengthening the muscles around your knees can help your new joint work better, so you get back to your daily activities more quickly. A visit with a physical therapist may help you learn the best moves. Working out also helps you lose weight, which can reduce your risk of complications.

  • Stop smoking
    3. Quit Smoking
    Tobacco interferes with your body's healing powers. Recovery from surgery will be longer and more difficult if you don't kick the habit. Talk with your doctor or a counselor if you need help putting out your cigarettes.

  • Health Insurance Forms
    4. Compile Your Paperwork
    As the date of your surgery nears, more people will be asking for your medical information. Compile your insurance information and medical history, and make lists of your allergies, medications, dietary restrictions, and doctors, including contact details. Designate one close confidante who can relay information between the doctor and your friends and family.

  • Hispanic businesswoman talking on cell phone in office
    5. Figure Out Your Finances
    Surgery can be costly—you'll get bills from your surgeon, the hospital, and other doctors, such as the anesthesiologist. Ask your doctor and the hospital about their charges. Contact your insurance company to see how much you'll pay. If you work, check with your employer regarding leave time and disability pay.

  • Pills in hand
    6. Manage Your Medications
    Some drugs can interfere with the success of your surgery. These include over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen (Advil), which prevent your blood from clotting. Prescriptions that suppress your immune system, including methotrexate and Enbrel, increase your risk of infection. Talk with your doctor about possibly stopping some medications beforehand.

  • Senior woman with doctor
    7. Keep Your Doctor Informed
    Tell your surgeon about any medical conditions you have, including diabetes or heart disease. He or she will want to consult with the doctors who treat you for these issues. Update your medical team if you have health changes—such as a cold, flu, or fever—in the two weeks before surgery.

  • senior-man-with-walker-going-up-stairs
    8. Rearrange Your Space
    Take steps to make your home safer and more comfy during recovery. Put things you use frequently within arm's reach. Install grab bars in your bathroom. Secure rugs to avoid tripping. Move your bed to the ground floor. Create a "recovery center" stocked with things like medications, books, and the TV remote.

  • Nurse helps senior patient
    9. Line Up Helpers
    Plan for childcare if needed, and arrange a ride home from the hospital. If possible, ask someone to stay with you for a few days. Having a helpmate will increase your personal safety and boost your peace of mind. Alternatively, inquire with the doctor if you are eligible to recover at a rehabilitation facility after the surgery. If so, be sure to visit the center beforehand to meet the staff and take a tour.

  • woman-packing-suitcase
    10. Pack a Bag
    Put a few items into a kit for your hospital stay. Slippers, a robe, reading materials, glasses or contacts, and a light shirt to wear under your gown will make your stay more pleasant. Also include medications, your insurance card, medical history, and an advance directive spelling out your healthcare wishes. Remember to leave all valuables including jewelry or wristwatch at home.

  • Happy senior man
    11. Know the Protocol
    Your doctor will give you instructions on what to do the day or night before surgery. Usually, you'll stop eating or drinking six to 12 hours beforehand. You may have some medications to take; if so, swallow them with a small sip of water. Ask questions if anything is unclear.

11 Ways to Prepare for Knee Replacement

About The Author

  1. Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00220
  2. Total Knee Replacement. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00389
  3. Fact Sheet #28: The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. U.S. Department of Labor. http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs28.htm
  4. Considering Surgery? National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/print/health/publication/considering-surgery
  5. Knee Joint Replacement. National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002974.htm
  6. Hip or Knee Replacement - Before - What to Ask Your Doctor.National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000233.htm
Was this helpful?
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Aug 1
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.