Good for you, you’re getting that joint replaced! There’s no question that this decision will improve your quality of life. However, there are some important things to keep in mind with the process as well.

The following tips are brought to you by SPO physical therapists that see knee, hip and shoulder replacements every day. They’ve noticed some patterns…

1.   Pre-Op Rehab

Prior to getting a joint replaced, any cardiovascular exercise or gentle strengthening that you can do will most likely improve your outcomes. We’re not suggesting you run a marathon today and go in for surgery tomorrow, but gentle exercise is good.

For example, simple knee exercises to strengthen your leg prior to surgery will help you after a total knee replacement. Biking, walking and mild movement in a pool are also beneficial forms of gentle exercise. It may even help you lose some weight prior to surgery and take stress off that joint.

Not sure where to start? Contact the physical therapists at SPO and we’ll help guide you in the right direction.

2.   Post-Op Rehab

Yes, the post-op process may be uncomfortable, but physical therapy sessions after surgery are extremely important. Your body goes through a lot when getting a joint replaced. It will take some time to heal and the doctors will work with you to manage that post-op pain.

The good news…the pain will not last forever. All tissues heal. That’s why physical therapy sessions after surgery are so important. Movement will help manage that pain.

3.   Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Stop comparing your recovery to others.

“My best friend had her hip replaced and said it felt better immediately after surgery. I’m still having trouble getting in and out of my car. Am I doing something wrong?”

Not necessarily. Unfortunately, we as humans sometimes fall in the trap of comparing our experience to others and not in a way that makes us feel better about ourselves.

Here’s the secret—run your own race. Your situation, your body, your healing time, everything about you is different from your best friend. That friend is doing well post-surgery and you’re not there yet? Cheer them on but focus on you and your recovery. Be your own cheerleader.

4.   Follow the Precautions

Follow the PRECAUTIONS. You just had a hip replaced and your doctor told you that there is no bending more than 90 degrees, no crossing your legs and no turning your toes inward on the surgical side. That joint needs to heal and if the body moves into those positions, there is a chance of dislocation. That’s no fun.

If not a hip, maybe you just had a shoulder replaced. The doctor went over precautions with you and reminded you that you should not push up from a chair with your surgical side, move your surgical arm across your body, or reach behind your back for the first 12 weeks

Please follow these precautions. It will make the recovery process better and decrease your risk for injury.

5.   Don’t Quit

Maybe you’re starting to get a little frustrated after your joint replacement. You had surgery five weeks ago and you don’t have the same pain as before, but you’re not able to go up and down stairs at a brisk pace. You come to therapy twice a week, and you’re ready to give up.

Just wait! Most patients get a little stuck when they’re a couple weeks out from surgery and are not quite back to normal. Talk with your physical therapist about your progress and be honest. It is a journey. They can work with you to review your goals or adjust your plan of care.

Trust the experts at SPO, they’ll get you back on track.