Learn how to prepare for an elective procedure and what to expect during your recovery.  Orthopedic surgery is a big step.  Make sure you’re doing everything you can to assure the best possible outcome.
If orthopedic surgery such as shoulder, hip, or knee joint replacement is in your future, take steps to ensure better outcomes and smooth return to normal activities.   Ask your physician/surgeon how you can prepare for the procedure and what to expect after the surgery.  Your doctors recommendations will be customized to your health status, age, abilities, and other factors in your physical profile. Remember:  You are part of your medical team.  The following information will give you an idea of what you can expect and what you can do to achieve successful recovery.


What you do before surgery is important to achieving a successful outcome.  Physical readiness facilitates wound healing, decreases posts surgical swelling and pain and increase the likelihood of a safe and speedy recovery without complications.  Here are some recommendations:


Therapy is the next step in facilitating a speedy recovery.  It can begin in as little as a few hours or a few days following surgery and is essential to helping  you return to your prior level of function.  A licensed therapy team can facilitate the restoration of range of motion, strength, and ability to safely and independently complete those activities important to you and vital for you to be able to complete in order to safely return home.

Eat a balanced diet and lose weight if necessary.

Proper nutrition and hydration ensures your body is getting the right nutrients which facilitates the healing process.  Weight loss, 5-10 pounds, can help decrease pressure on joints and makes it much easier to participate in therapy programs following your surgery.


With your physicians approval, adopt a daily routine that includes 30 minutes of exercise, even if you have to break it into smaller sessions throughout the day.  This aides in improving muscular control of the affected area.  It also improves overall fitness and mental well being, and provides a basic introduction and understanding of post operative treatments, exercises and goals, improving the status of the affected joint prior to surgery can aide in reducing pre and post-operative pain and swelling.  

Visit your dentist.

Make sure you do not have any abscesses or oral infections prior to your surgery.  This aides in reducing risk of infection at the surgical site.

Stop smoking.

Tobacco use increases the risk of infection. Nicotine narrows blood vessels which reduces blood flow; this can compromise wound healing.  Talk to your doctor about starting a smoking cessation program.


Your therapy team may include all of or a variation of a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a speech therapist.

Physical and Occupational Therapy

The physical therapist and occupational therapist will evaluate your condition and establish goals with you and your family to facilitate the most effective and timely recovery possible.   These goals may include, but are not limited to:
-Minimizing the adverse effects of surgery (pain and swelling) through the use of modalities (ice heat, electrical stimulation) and exercise.
-Exercise to increase range of motion, flexibility and strength
-Posture, balance and coordination training
-Gait (ambulation training)
-Training in the completion of activities of daily living, which would include your ability to dress, bathe, groom, and prepare something simple to eat, if needed, like cereal or a sandwich.

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy may be indicated as well.  It is important to understand that a speech therapist does not soley deal with the concerns related to speech, eating and swallowing.  A speech and language therapist is also highly trained in cognitive related issues and specializes in meeting people at their current cognitive level to provide “exercises for the brain”.  These exercises which are individualized to the specific needs of each person can prevent, improve, and/or decrease the rate of decline related to identified cognitive issues.  These cognitive issues may include short term/long term memory, problem solving, sequencing, following directions etc…all of which directly impact ones ability to safely and independently function in the home environment.
At times, the hospital cannot send a patient directly home following surgery.  That is where short-term rehabilitation comes in.  Whether you are having shoulder, hip, knee or other joint replacement/reconstructive surgery, preparation for a successful recovery encompasses factors beyond the hospital.


Therapy can be provided in a number of settings.  Discuss options with your physician to determine the rehabilitation setting that is best for you. Some people choose to receive therapy services at home through their local home health agency following their procedure.  Most generally, these individuals do not live alone and have a strong support system 24/7.  If your situation is not conducive to a discharge directly from the hospital to home, then a short-term rehabilitation setting may be the right choice for recovery.