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How to prepare for your orthopaedic surgery

There are many ways to prepare for surgery to make the procedure easier and the recovery more comfortable. Some of these preparations are obvious, others less so. You will receive an extensive preparation list before your surgery, and we’re sharing some of the highlights below to help you put your best foot (or arm or hand or shoulder) forward when facing a surgery. Remember that we’re always here to answer questions about your particular surgery and circumstances.  

  • Consider pre-habilitation. Depending on your specific procedure, going through physical therapy (PT) before your surgery may be an option and can help prepare your body physically. Our PT team can also advise you about which exercises to practice ahead of time.
  • Post-surgery physical therapy is critical. Schedule your PT ahead of time and continue to go, no matter how busy (or tired, or overwhelmed) you are. Your physical therapist is there to help you get everything moving properly again and is an integral part of the recovery process.
  • Have an advocate. Healthcare can be overwhelming at any time, but particularly if you’re feeling exhausted — physically or mentally. Bringing an advocate (a friend or family member who can listen, take notes and ask questions on your behalf) to your appointments and surgery can help you understand and better keep track of your treatment and recovery plan. Remember that it is perfectly acceptable to ask a lot of questions and write down the answers so that important information does not get lost in the shuffle.
  • Talk about insurance. There are many healthcare professionals involved in your care. The GBO billing department can help you sort out coverage and deductibles. You should also speak to the billing department at the hospital/surgical facility during your pre-op visit.
  • Have a plan for your prescriptions. When you come in for your pre-op visit, we’ll discuss your existing medications, as well as the proper use (or cessation) of over-the-counter drugs like aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs. Your GBO team will also give you a list of prescriptions and other materials you’ll need for your surgery. Chances are, you will not feel like going to the pharmacy immediately after surgery, so be sure to add this to your to-do list ahead of time. Please note that Nevada legislation limits initial painkiller prescriptions to 14-day supplies, so save this one until last to pick up.
    • Know yourself. Consider how you react to specific medications. If anesthesia made you nauseous during a previous hospitalization, advise your medical team so they can devise a strategy.
    • Know your meds. All drugs have different rules and side effects. Make sure you understand which you’re supposed to take until gone and which are “as needed.” Discuss proper disposal of unused prescriptions with your pharmacist.
  • Forget fashion. If your surgery is in-patient, you’ll most likely be in a hospital gown for your entire stay at the hospital, but you need to think about what to wear home. Comfort is obvious, but you’ll want to make sure it’s something that’s easy to get into without a lot of hooks or buttons. Remember that comfort and stability are key.
  • Plan your ride. You won’t be allowed to drive yourself home after your surgery, nor will you be able to use a taxi or Uber. You’ll need to have someone you trust who can be responsible for picking you up and getting you situated safely at home. Ideally, they should plan to stay with you for 24 hours after surgery to make sure you are mobile enough to tackle the basics, like using the restroom and getting yourself food and water.
  • Let people help you. They’re probably going to offer, and this is the time to take them up on it. Your friends and family members will be invaluable resources for picking up groceries, exercising your pets and even helping with the cooking.
  • Ask around. You probably know someone who has had a similar surgery. Invite them to lunch to ask them what they wish they had known ahead of time.

Great Basin Orthopaedics is here to answer any questions you may have about your procedure and what you can expect before and after. Call 775-786-1600.