How to Prepare for Orthopedic Surgery
Often a last resort if other treatments fail to provide relief, orthopedic surgery can be performed on any of the bones, soft tissues, joints, and nerves within the body. Many of the procedures performed today involve less invasive techniques, and frequently performed operations like spinal fusion and ACL reconstructive surgery have high success rates. Regardless of what’s being corrected or restored to ease or eliminate your musculoskeletal pain, being as prepared as possible can make your experience less stressful and more productive.
Understand the Expected Outcome
Many patients expect complete pain relief after orthopedic surgery, but this isn’t always a realistic expectation. In some cases, the goal is to bring discomfort down to a level where it’s manageable. Lifestyle also plays a role in determining expectations. For instance, an athlete undergoing surgery for rotator cuff repair may have the goal of being able to play sports again at a competitive level.
Avoid the possibility of being frustrated with your surgery outcome by clearly discussing your expectations and goals with your surgeon. Prior to your procedure, schedule an appointment with your orthopedic surgeon solely for the purpose of asking questions. Clarify the following details:
- Why your particular procedure is recommended
- What the expected outcome is for most people who have the same type of surgery
- How long recovery typically takes
- Why other non-surgical options such as epidural injections or electrotherapy weren’t recommended for you
Arrange for At-Home Assistance In Advance
You probably won’t be able to do everything you normally do on a daily basis after surgery, so arrange for some assistance ahead of time. Most patients will need someone to drive them home after surgery. Depending on your specific procedure, you may also need some help with household cleaning tasks. Further ease your return home by ordering any post-surgery medication in advance and moving frequently used objects to places where you can reach what need without stretching or bending.
Mention All Medications Being Taken to Your Anesthesiologist
While herbal supplements may not seem all that significant, they can have an effect on anesthesia. Disclose anything you take on a regular basis, including vitamins and over-the-counter pain or anti-inflammatory meds. Smoking should be stopped in advance of surgery, as should alcohol consumption. Also mention medications you may be taking for other conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Results seen with any type of orthopedic surgery, even arthroscopic procedures, will depend on several factors. Typically, success depends on your overall health and your response to follow-up rehab or physical therapy. Your response to surgery will also depend on how well you stick to any recommendations involving activities you can safely do. Further improve your odds of seeing meaningful results by making healthy choices with the foods you eat and getting regular exercise specific to your capabilities.