How to stay healthy and look after your
joints whilst waiting for surgery

Joint and muscle problems can be caused by several factors. One main reason for joint problems and pain is arthritis. Arthritis is a term describing general pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints of the body. Arthritis can lead to painful, swollen joints and can make it difficult for people to move and live their lives well. It can have different causes, but the main ones are called osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Find out about the different types of arthritis and the symptoms they may give provided by the Versus Arthritis group.

There are lots of things you can do to help manage your painful joints including exercise and medication. Not all people who have arthritis choose to have surgery and learn to manage their condition.

You can also help to take the pressure off your joints by maintaining a healthy weight.
This can be done through making positive food choices and doing regular exercise such as walking. Activity can be anything such as walking, gardening, dancing or sport.

Before you come in for surgery, it is important to keep as active as possible. Try and do what you feel is acceptable for you, building up gradually as you feel able.

There are some specific exercises which can help to keep the movement in your hip and knee and strengthen the muscles around your hip and knee.

The links below will provide you with some exercise videos you can try before coming in for your operation.

See information provided by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy about keeping active and healthy.

If you are waiting for knee surgery and want further guidance and advice on managing pain and exercising you may be suitable to attend our ESCAPE pain programme.

If you are struggling to keep active or feel you may need assessment with a walking aid because of pain and feel it may be beneficial to speak to a Physiotherapist.
Please see our Musculoskeletal Out-patient Physiotherapy page for details on how to self-refer.

Before coming in for surgery, it is important to look after yourself. Ensure your teeth are healthy and if you are prone to any infections (such as urine infections), try to identify any problems as soon as you can and seek medical help.

Your surgery may be postponed if you have signs of infection (fever, redness on your skin, burning sensation when you go to the toilet).

Your recovery can be helped by preparing for your operation and eating healthy foods. Maintaining a healthy weight will encourage good wound healing and can help to ease painful joints in the run up to your surgery.

More information about eating well and making positive food choices.

Smoking can lead to more complications after surgery including problems with wound healing, bigger risk of blood clots and problems with your breathing after anaesthetic.

You can help to reduce these risks by reducing or, ideally, stopping smoking before coming into hospital.

There is help and support available to do this on our Stopping Smoking page.

Your surgery is planned and so you need to consider what support you will need after your operation. This can include asking friends and family to help with things around the house, such as shopping, cleaning and preparing meals for you. Try and prepare your house before you come in.

Things to consider:

  • Remove rugs that might make walking around the house difficult or that might be a trip hazard.
  • Stock the freezer with pre-prepared meals that are easy to cook
  • Position commonly used items within easy reach, for example cups near the kettle and objects in accessible places for example on waist height worktops or lower shelves.
  • Make the beds and clean the house before coming in for your operation, leaving plenty of room for moving about.
  • Discuss with your family or friends if they can help you at home (and arrange who will pick you up from hospital).
  • If you are a carer for others, think about arrangements that will help with those responsibilities. If you own a pet, consider who can look after that pet whilst you are in hospital and for a short while afterwards.

After surgery, the hard work is down to you!

Be prepared and read the information on this website and any information your surgeon or physiotherapist has directed you to. This will help you know what to expect and benefit your recovery.

Here are some basic exercises you can do to help keep your hip and knee joints moving and strong whilst you are waiting for treatment.

Knee exercise

Hip exercises

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