Now that you’ve decided to have joint replacement surgery, you’re probably curious about what you can do to help ensure a successful outcome.


Understand the Risks

Hip, knee and shoulder replacement surgeries are very common procedures with close to a million procedures being done each year in the United States.1 It’s important to fully understand the risks and potential complications of your surgery. The complication rate after joint replacement is very low. However, when complications do occur, they can prolong or limit full recovery.

Your doctor will explain the potential risks and complications of total joint replacement, including those related to the surgery in addition to those that can occur after your surgery. Some of the more common complications of joint replacement surgery include infection, blood clots, nerve injury, and problems with the prosthesis, like loosening or dislocation. Most complications can be treated successfully.


Preoperative Testing

All patients are required to have routine bloodwork and urinalysis performed within 14 days of the scheduled surgery. Patients are also required to have a physical examination which can be performed at any time within 30 days of surgery. If you are over 50 years old, you may be required to have an EKG and chest x-ray performed as well. Most pre-admission tests and evaluations can be performed by your personal physician.

Prepare Your Body

  • If you smoke, cut down or quit. Smoking affects blood circulation, delays healing and slows recovery. It also raises your chances of complications and infection during and after the surgery.
  • Eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet. If you are overweight, there will be more stress placed on your new hip or knee joint. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a weight loss program prior to joint replacement surgery.
  • Pre-op exercises - Ask your doctor about exercises you can do before surgery. If you are having a hip or knee replacement, strengthening your upper body will make it easier to use crutches or a walker after surgery.

Prepare Your Home

  • Consider having someone drive and stay home with you after your surgery until you can perform activities of daily living independently and safely.
  • Make arrangements for help with house work (outdoor work, pet care, etc.) for at least 2 weeks after surgery.
  • Do laundry the day before surgery and put clean linens on your bed.
  • Place items you use regularly at arm level, so you do not have to reach up or bend down.
  • Consider modifying your bathroom to include a shower chair, non-slip bathmat, gripping bar, or raised toilet seat.
  • Check rooms for tripping hazards.
  • Prepare meals in advance and freeze them. You can also purchase prepared meals that are easy to heat up.
  • Purchase post-surgery therapy products if required.


Understand the Risks

You should not eat or drink from midnight on the day of your surgery. If your surgeon allows you to take a medication the morning of surgery, you should take it with the least amount of water necessary.

Come Prepared

Patients are generally requested to arrive at the hospital 2 hours before their scheduled surgery time. This allows time to go through the admission process, change into a hospital gown, as well as meet the anesthesiologist and nursing personnel who will be with you during your surgery and will be able to answer any questions and put your mind at ease.

What to Bring:

  • Photo ID and insurance card
  •  Comfortable slippers with non-skid soles
  • A knee-length robe or gown
  • Personal care items such as a hairbrush, denture case, eyeglasses, contact lens case
  • Any medications you take regularly
  • Comfortable and loose-fitting clothing wear home from the hospital
  • Cane, crutches or walker, if using prior to surgery
  • Friend or family member
  • Please leave your jewelry, money, and valuables at home.


Exercise is an important part of the recovery process. Your doctor or physical therapist will provide you with specific exercises to help restore movement and strengthen the joint. In general, your doctor will encourage you to use your “new” joint shortly after your operation, sometimes even the same day. You will work with a physical therapist to resume daily activities and strengthen muscles. Although it may be challenging at times, it’s important to follow your doctor’s post-op instructions to help speed your recovery.

Most patients will experience some temporary pain in the replaced joint. Remember the body is adjusting to the new joint and the tissues around the joint are healing. After surgery, expect some tenderness and stiffness, but some signs and symptoms may suggest the development of complications.


  • Fever after the second day following surgery
  • Increasing pain or swelling
  • Redness, warmth, or tenderness which may suggest a wound infection
  • Unusual bleeding (some surgical wound drainage is normal and, in fact, desirable)
  • Numbness or tingling of the affected body part

Please consult with your physician with any additional questions or concerns specific to your individual scenario. The vast majority of individuals who have joint replacement surgery experience a dramatic reduction in joint pain, improved motion of their surgical joint, and can participate in and enjoy the activities of daily living.