5 tips to prepare for home life after joint replacement or spine surgery

Going for a joint replacement or spine surgery can change your life in many positive ways. Freedom from pain and improved mobility are two main advantages, and who wouldn’t want that?

There are 719,000 total knee replacements and 332,000 hip replacements performed annually in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, more than 7 million people in the country have had a knee or hip replacement surgery. And about 400,000 people in the U.S. undergo spine surgery each year.

If you’re planning for either of these surgeries, it is likely your recovery could take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. Now, a joint replacement or a spine surgery is a big decision and you’re probably thinking about it quite a bit. But it’s also important to think about your comfort after you return home. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your time spent healing:

  1. Clear your walking paths! You need enough room to navigate comfortably to all the areas in your home you frequently use. Pick up rugs, remove animal and baby toys, clothing, totes or any other items from the floors.
  2. Choose your best chairs. Have a firm, comfortable armchair with an ottoman or a recliner chair to rest in and get your legs up. Low furniture is difficult to move in and out of, so you may need to raise the seat height.
  3. Secure railings. If you have to take the stairs to get to your bedroom, bathroom or anywhere else in your home, make sure you have a good railing to use. Loose or incomplete rails will not provide the stability you need to navigate safely your stairs.
  4. Adjust your bed height. Have a bed that you can get into and out of that is not too high. If this is not an option, make sure you have a good footstool handy to use as a step to allow you to sit back in your bed when getting into it.
  5. Be careful with pets. Keep pets secured away from you when you are moving around your home. Pets can trip you when they are underfoot!
  6. Prepare the bathroom for your limited mobility. If you can, install a grab bar next to your toilet and in the shower to assist you with balance and rising from a seated position. Since challenged mobility is a temporary limitation, you may opt to purchase a raised toilet seat with arm rests or a commode seat with multiple uses (like the 3-in-1 commode) in lieu of grab bar installation. A seat for the shower is also helpful and can be as simple as a plastic lawn chair or a specialized bathtub bench to slide into the shower in a seated position.

There are a lot of thoughts that cross your mind when you are going to go through surgery, but it’s also important to take some time to think about how you can best take care of yourself once you’re home. Pay attention to the little things that you usually overlook and make sure that the layout will give you the safest and most comfortable environment. But most importantly: make sure you can reach the jar of cookies in the kitchen! A little sweetness always makes things a little better.

Marilyn Pfeiffer is an outpatient home visit therapist at Anne Arundel Medical Group (AAMG) Physical Therapy. You can reach her at 443-481-1140. To learn more about PT360 Home Therapy, visit aamgphysicialtherapy.com