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What to Do Before Orthopedic Surgery?


You are about to undergo orthopedic surgery. It’s normal to have questions and even concerns. But don’t worry, you can prepare yourself and know what to expect. First, talk to your surgeon about your expectations and fears. Ask any questions that come to mind – the more you know, the more confident you’ll feel. Then, carefully follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding preoperative tests and make sure you fast on the day of the operation.

Prepare your home for your recovery, gather supplies, and ask friends to help you during your recuperation. Lastly, maintain a positive attitude. While surgery may seem daunting, it will improve your mobility and quality of life. Have confidence, you’re in good hands!

How to Prepare for Orthopedic Surgery?

Preparation for orthopedic surgery is essential for a positive experience. Here are some steps to take before your surgery:

Firstly, quit smoking. This may seem obvious, but smoking slows down healing and increases the risk of complications. Try to quit at least 2 to 4 weeks before the operation.

Secondly, start doing muscle strengthening exercises. Gentle exercises like knee extensions, ankle flexes, and ankle rotations can strengthen the muscles around the operated area and accelerate recovery. Do them 2-3 times a week.

Next, plan your time off work and organize your schedule. Discuss with your employer and loved ones to ensure you have enough rest and support after your surgery.

Finally, organize your home. Place easily accessible items like extra pillows, books, a remote control, a phone, snacks, etc. Have loose and comfortable clothing ready. Install safety bars in the bathroom for added security, and consider a toilet seat riser for hip comfort. Also, plan to have closed-toe shoes that support your ankles to prevent falls.

With good preparation, you can approach your orthopedic surgery with confidence. Remember to ask any questions you might have to your surgeon before the procedure. Quick and smooth recovery depends on planning and patience. You’ll get there!

Tests to Have Before Orthopedic Surgery

Before orthopedic surgery, there are a few tests to undergo. The doctor will review your medical and surgical history to ensure you are fit for the surgery.

Blood and urine tests will be prescribed to check your blood count, kidney function, and electrolyte levels. This is important for safe anesthesia planning. An X-ray of the area to be operated on will provide detailed information about the severity of the problem.

Cardiovascular Tests

If you are over 50 or have cardiovascular risk factors, your surgeon may request an electrocardiogram (ECG) and additional blood tests. Some patients might even undergo a cardiopulmonary stress test to evaluate their endurance.

Other Tests

Additional tests might be required depending on your health status and the type of surgery. An MRI or ultrasound may be requested to visualize joint structures and soft tissues better. Pulmonary function might be measured in patients at risk of respiratory complications. Dental examinations, bacterial and specific blood tests might also be required based on your history and the planned surgery.

With favorable test results, you will be ready for your surgery with confidence. Follow your surgeon’s instructions to prepare for your hospitalization and recovery. Good luck!

Modifying Habits Before the Operation

To prepare for your orthopedic surgery, you’ll need to make some significant changes to your lifestyle in the weeks leading up to the procedure. Adapting your habits and managing your expectations will help you achieve the best possible outcome and enjoy optimal recovery.

Diet and Exercise

Focus on maintaining a healthy diet and a light exercise routine. Eat more whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Limit processed foods, sugar, and red meat. Gentle walking, yoga, or swimming can help you stay mobile while avoiding injuries. Discuss with your doctor any supplements or medications you’re taking, as some might need to be stopped before the operation.

Quit Smoking

If you smoke, your doctor will likely ask you to quit at least two weeks before and after the surgery. Smoking hampers circulation and healing. Talk to your doctor about nicotine replacements or medications that can help you quit smoking for good.

Prepare Your Home

You’ll need to prepare your home for your recovery before entering the hospital. Install safety equipment such as shower chairs, raised toilet seats, and grab bars. Ensure frequently used items are placed on easily accessible shelves. Stock up on over-the-counter pain relievers, bandages, ice packs, and medical supplies recommended by your doctor. Plan for time off and ask friends or family to help you during the initial recovery phase.

What to Bring

Pack comfortable and loose-fitting clothes, slippers, a robe, entertainment items like books or magazines, chargers, and any current medical equipment. Don’t forget insurance information, identification, payment methods, and a list of your current medications. You can also bring crutches or a walker if recommended by your doctor to aid in post-operative mobility.

Healthy changes, preparing your environment, and proper packing are small steps you can take to optimize your orthopedic surgery experience and get back on the road to recovery as quickly as possible. Best of luck!

Hospital Packing List

Ensuring that you’ve prepared everything before the operation will help you feel more comfortable. Here are some essential items to bring to the hospital:

  • Insurance Card/RAMQ Card: Bring your insurance card and any pre-authorization information from your insurer. The hospital will need this information for accurate billing.
  • Identification: Remember to bring a government-issued ID, such as your driver’s license. The hospital will need to verify your identity.
  • Medical Information: Have details about your medical history, allergies, and current medications on hand to communicate to medical staff.
  • Cash/Credit Card: Bring cash, a credit card, or a debit card in case you need to pay a co-payment or deductible.
  • Change of Clothes: Pack loose and comfortable clothes, slippers, a robe, and any toiletries you might need during your hospital stay.
  • Chargers/Electronics: Bring your phone charger, tablet, laptop, or any other devices you want access to. But first, check with your doctor for any screen time or activity restrictions.
  • Glasses/Contacts: Don’t forget your glasses, contact lenses, contact lens case, solution, and other vision care products.
  • Entertainment: Pack books, magazines, podcasts, music, or audiobooks to pass the time. Again, check with your doctor for screen time and activity restrictions.
  • Toiletries: Bring personal toiletry items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, makeup, hairbrush, mouthwash, and other essentials. The hospital will provide basic toiletries, but having your own can make you more comfortable.
  • Pillow/Blanket (optional): If allowed, you can bring your own pillow, blanket, and any other comfort items from home. However, check with your hospital about their policy on bringing personal bedding.

Preparing for your hospital stay and bringing these essential items can help alleviate your stress and allow you to focus on your recovery. Also, be sure to follow any additional instructions from your doctor regarding your surgery.

Frequently Asked Questions About Orthopedic Surgery

Before your orthopedic operation, you’re likely wondering about what to expect. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and what you need to know:

How long will I stay in the hospital?

The duration of your hospital stay will depend on the type of procedure you’ll undergo. Minor surgeries, such as knee arthroscopy, may require only an overnight hospitalization, while more complex surgeries, like hip or knee arthroplasty, may necessitate 1 to 5 days of hospitalization, but they can also be performed as day surgeries. Your doctor will determine when you’ll be ready to leave the hospital based on your recovery progress and rehabilitation advancements.

What will the pain intensity be like?

You will experience some pain and discomfort after orthopedic surgery, but your doctor will provide you with medications to alleviate it. While in the hospital, you’ll receive pain relievers intravenously and orally. Once discharged, you’ll continue taking the prescribed oral medications. Don’t hesitate to inform your doctor if your pain is not adequately managed. It’s normal to experience some discomfort during physical therapy and rehabilitation, but it should remain manageable.

How long does the recovery process take?

Full recovery can take several months and depends on factors like age, health condition, and the type of procedure. Most patients can engage in light activities after 6 to 8 weeks, while more intense activities should be avoided for 3 to 6 months. Complete recovery of strength and range of motion can take up to a year. Timelines are adjusted based on your recovery capacity, medical history, and work or physical activities. Follow-up appointments with your doctor and physiotherapy sessions will be necessary throughout the recovery process.

Will I need physical therapy or rehabilitation?

Most orthopedic surgeries require physiotherapy and rehabilitation sessions to restore strength and range of motion. A physical therapist will provide you with exercises to do at home as well as practical therapy during scheduled appointments. Rehabilitation through physiotherapy is key to successful healing and returning to normal activities. The duration and intensity of physical therapy depend on the type of procedure.

When can I drive again?

You won’t be able to drive immediately after orthopedic surgery. Generally, you should no longer be taking prescription pain medications before resuming driving. Your doctor will determine when you can resume driving based on your recovery progress. It’s advisable to have family and friends assist you with transportation during this period.


The day of your surgery is approaching, and you’ve already done a lot to prepare yourself mentally and physically. Stay strong! The procedure may seem intimidating, but you’ve chosen an excellent surgeon and a competent medical team who will do everything to ensure your surgery is a success and your complete recovery. Focus on your postoperative recovery and envision yourself walking again and becoming active. Before you know it, you’ll leave the hospital with a new hip or knee and a fresh perspective on life. Stay positive – you’ve already overcome the hardest part. Now, relax and let the professionals take care of the rest. The path ahead is clear, and your restored mobility is just a few days away!


Read also:

When to See an Orthopedic Surgeon?
What Is an Orthopedic Clinic?
Private Orthopedic Surgery in Quebec: Is It the Best Choice?
Types of Orthopedic Surgeries
Choosing Your Orthopedic Surgeon
What to Do After Orthopedic Surgery?
Managing Chronic Pain After Orthopedic Surgery

Dr. Benoit is an assistant professor of surgery at the Université de Montréal and practices at the CIUSSS Nord-de-l’île de Montréal. He completed his medical degree at Université Laval in Quebec City in 2001 and did his orthopedic residency at the Université de Montreal, where he was on the Dean’s honour list. Following his residency, he completed two additional years of fellowship training; the first year in Geneva, Switzerland and the second year in Ottawa, Canada.

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