9 Ways to Prepare for Ankle, Hip or Knee Replacement, or Foot Surgery

If you’re having ankle, hip, or knee replacement surgery, or repairing a bunion or hammer toe, here are 9 things you can do today to prepare.

If you and your doctor have decided that a surgical procedure is the next best step for treating your arthritic ankle, hip, knee, or foot pain, there are things you can do today to prepare for recovery. Here are 9 helpful ways you can get yourself and your home ready for your upcoming procedure.

1. Remove throw rugs, cords, and other tripping hazards.

Walking around your home with crutches, a walker, a knee scooter, or other assistive devices can be tricky, especially if you can't put your surgical foot down on the ground. To reduce your risk of trips and falls, consider moving anything from the ground that could be hazardous to your safety. This may include:

  • Throw rugs
  • Electronic cords
  • Kids' toys
  • Pet toys
  • Shoes and clothing

The Basics of Using a Walking Aid

2. Schedule a grocery delivery service or preplan for meals.

A trip to the grocery store (including driving and lifting items in your cart) may be a lot to handle right now.

Fortunately, many establishments offer delivery services for a small fee. Check with your local grocery stores to see what options they offer. If they don’t offer delivery, many provide curbside pick-up which could be an alternative. Don't forget: some pharmacies may offer medication delivery services, too!

You may also consider preparing meals ahead of time and freezing them. That way, you simply thaw and cook after surgery. Family, church members, or other friends may be willing to bring you meals in the first couple weeks after surgery, too.

3. If necessary, schedule seasonal services.

Depending on when your surgery will be, you may need to plan ahead and arrange some additional services around the house. Look into services such as:

  • Dog walking
  • Mowing and yardwork
  • Snow removal

Even hiring a kid from your neighborhood can be great for putting out your trash bins or retrieving your mail. Don't be afraid to ask for help!

4. Rearrange your furniture, kitchen items, and other personal belongings.

Make commonly used items in your home easier to reach and use. For instance, make sure there's room around your bed and furniture to get around with whatever assistive device you may have. Move items like clothing, cosmetic products, and dinnerware to waist-high shelves and cupboards.

5. Consider purchasing a foot tent for your bed.

Some people find that the weight of a blanket can be uncomfortable on their healing foot. A foot tent is a simple wire device installed at the bottom of your bed that keeps the blankets off your feet. This may help you avoid tossing and turning under your covers.

6. Buy a long charging cord for your phone.

If you don't already have one, you may want to purchase an extended charging cord for your mobile device. It's a convenient way to make sure you always have access to a fully charged cell phone, even if you're not moving around quite as easily.

7. Make safety upgrades in your bathroom.

The bathroom is one of the most common areas in the home for slips and falls.1 So, give your bathroom a safety makeover before your surgery:

  • Use non-slip mats in and around the tub or shower
  • Ensure all lighting and ventilation is up-to-date
  • Install grab bars, a shower chair or bench, etc. (you can purchase these privately or you may be eligible for these through your insurance after your surgery, so check with your provider)
  • Remove clutter
  • Place toiletries and soaps in easy-to-reach areas

If you’re concerned about any of these suggestions, talk to your doctor. They will be able to provide specific guidance regarding your personal condition and recovery needs.

8. Pack your "operation day" bag.

Your doctor will be able to tell you if they plan on sending you home the same day after surgery (outpatient surgery) or if you’ll be spending the night (inpatient surgery). Regardless, it's a good idea to come to the facility prepared for either scenario. Some items to pack ahead of time may be:

  • Reading and writing material
  • A list of your current medications and supplements
  • Important phone numbers and addresses (e.g., insurance provider, pharmacy, emergency contact)
  • Cell phone charger
  • An extra set of comfortable clothing
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Personal toiletries
  • Extra glasses or contact lenses and solution

Some items NOT to bring along include jewelry, excessive amounts of cash, and perfumes or colognes.

9. Learn some deep breathing techniques.

It's normal and expected to have some pain after your surgery. While deep breathing won't necessarily get rid of your pain, one study shows it may be beneficial.2 So, take some time before your surgery to start practicing some deep breathing techniques.  

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  1. (n.d.). Fact Sheet: Falls – The Biggest Threat to Senior Health and Safety. Aging.com. https://aging.com/falls-fact-sheet/
  2. (n.d.). Breathing Exercises for Relaxation. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. https://www.chop.edu/pages/breathing-exercise-relaxation

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