Whether you’re a weekend athlete, golfer, or a grandparent who enjoys keeping up with the grandkids, joint pain can slow you down. If you and your physician have decided that joint replacement is the best option for you, rest assured that the healthcare team at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) will be there for you every step of the way. With orthopedic surgery offered in both Prescott and Prescott Valley, YRMC has been recognized for having one of the top joint replacement programs in the country.

Studies show that patients who understand what to expect and are prepared ahead of time are more likely to have better outcomes. The bottom line is, they get back to doing the things they love sooner. Of course, every case is different, but here are a few things to be aware of that will help your experience be as stress-free as possible.

 

BEFORE YOUR SURGERY

Your Living Area

Take a look around your home. Make sure you have a comfortable chair that’s easy to get in and out of. Remove any tripping hazards that may get in your way, such as stacks of newspapers, electrical cords and loose throw rugs. A clear path to the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen is important.

Your healthcare team may recommend a walker or cane. YRMC Care Management can help you locate these items before you return home from your hospital stay.

Set up a safe bathroom. Some things to consider are a night light, commode seat riser and grab bars by the toilet. In addition, non-skid decals and grab bars in the tub or shower are important. Finally, a shower chair may make bathing easier as you recover.

Finally, if you have stairs, you may not be able to climb them right away. What accommodations can you make?

Your Kitchen

Lisa Norman, Clinical Dietician Supervisor at YRMC suggests shopping ahead of time so that your kitchen is stocked with healthy foods.

“Nutrition is just as important to your recovery as the medication the doctors give you and the physical therapy and occupational therapy that you’ll go through,” says Norman.

When you’re shopping, consider these important nutrients that have been found to aid in post-surgery recovery: 20 to 25 grams of protein per meal help promote wound healing. Fiber (think fresh fruits and vegetables) and lots of hydration help ward off constipation, which is often experienced when taking certain post-surgery medications.

Norman shares a sample menu for the day:

  • Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 slices of buttered toast, orange juice
  • Lunch: Turkey and cheese sandwich, apple, half glass of milk
  • Dinner: 3 ounces of chicken (the size of a deck of cards), rice, vegetables

Additional Considerations

Aside from preparing your home, there are additional logistic that will help ease your experience:

  • Arrange for transportation from the hospital after your discharge.
  • Complete your pre-surgery exercise program.
  • Complete a physical exam to ensure you are safe for surgery. Your healthcare provider will discuss this with you.
  • Provide your healthcare team with any medical records they may request, such as medical history, family history, current medications and any allergies you may have.
  • Choose a support person to be there for you along the way.

“A support person can be an extra set of ears as you’re talking to your surgeon,” says Carole Freeman, Director of Care Management at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center. “They can take notes for you and help you remember what your surgeon might have said.”

Your support person can offer moral support as you’re preparing for surgery and can help in a number of ways after you’re discharged from the hospital.

“They are there to help you make sure you take your medications on time and that you’re eating good, nutritious food,” Norman states. “There’s even someone there to take care of the pets!”

Items to Bring to the Hospital

Have these items ready to take with you the day of your surgery:

  • A list of current medication and over-the-counter vitamin and supplements
  • A list of your drug and food allergies and sensitivities
  • Your insurance card
  • Copies of legal documents, such as medical proxy, power of attorney and living will
  • The name and phone number of your primary contact while you are in surgery
  • Loose-fitting clothes for after your surgery
  • Be sure to leave any valuables or jewelry at home

DURING YOUR HOSPITAL STAY

Once you get to the hospital, you’ll have a team of highly skilled healthcare specialists ready to care for you. Your healthcare team includes your Orthopedic Surgeon, Anesthesiologist, Nursing Services, Care Management, Physical Rehabilitation Services, Dietary Services and Respiratory Therapy Services.

Your healthcare team has four main goals:

  • A successful surgery and recovery
  • Controlling your pain with oral medications
  • Getting you up and moving
  • Preparing you for a safe discharge to your home or care facility

You’ll meet the Physical Therapy team shortly after your surgery. Their goal is to help you improve the range of motion of your surgical limb. They’ll also help you with bed mobility (rolling left and right, sitting on the edge of the bed and getting out of bed), transferring to and from a chair or toilet, gait training and strengthening your surgical limb.

“We will also educate you on your weight bearing status,” says Becky Garbade, Physical Therapy Assistant at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center. “The doctor or surgeon will choose whether you can put full weight bearing – or as tolerated – or what they call partial weight bearing which could be 50% or 25%.”

Your weight bearing status will depend on the surgical approach that was taken, or how much time the team estimates that you’ll need for healing.

In addition to Physical Therapy, you’ll also receive Occupational Therapy.

“An Occupational Therapist is someone who helps you complete your self-care, like bathing, dressing and toileting after a trauma or a surgery,” says Nicole Butler, Occupational Therapy Assistant at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center.

Your Occupational Therapist may introduce you to a number of tools that can make your daily tasks easier as you are healing, such as sock aids and long-handled shoe horns, which help you put on your socks and shoes without having to fully bend over.

Another common tool is alternately called a grabber, reacher or grasper. It will allow you to pick up items that are out of reach. “These are really handy,” says Butler.

DISCHARGE

“It’s important to talk to your physician prior to your surgery about what your discharge destination might be,” Freeman states. The most common discharge destinations are:

  • Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation, where you’ll stay 7 to 10 days, with 3 to 4 hours of therapy a day. Freeman describes this destination as the most intense, and the rarest. This may be followed up with home health care when you return home.
  • A Skilled Nursing Facility, where you’ll typically stay 2 to 3 weeks with 2 to 3 hours of therapy a day.
  • Returning home and receiving Home Health Care. “This is when an outside agency comes into your home 2 to 3 times a week, about an hour per stay,” Freeman explains. “The therapist will come directly to your home.”
  • The least intensive destination is an Outpatient Therapy Center, where you are discharged to your home and attend therapy sessions at a designated outpatient clinic.

Decisions regarding your discharge destination depend on a number of factors, including the nature of your surgery, therapeutic needs post-surgery, and expected recovery time.

RECOVERY

Regardless of your discharge destination, so much of your success depends on you! Here’s how you can be an active participant in your healing and recovery:

  • Follow up with your surgeon to ensure your joint is healing.
  • Cooperate with your therapists and participate in your care.
  • Do your assigned exercises.
  • Comply with any joint precautions.
  • Follow any weight bearing instructions you’ve been given.
  • Most importantly, get up and MOVE!

Our goal at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center is to get you back to the golf course, hiking trails, grandkids and all the other activities you enjoy as soon as possible. For more information, or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Physical Rehabilitation Services at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center West in Prescott: (928) 771-5131

Physical Rehabilitation Services at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center East in Prescott Valley: (928) 759-5940

Care Management at Dignity Health, Yavapai Regional Medical Center West in Prescott: (928) 771-5650