How to stay healthy and look after your
joints whilst waiting for surgery
Joint and muscle problems can be caused by several things. One main reason for joint problems and pain is arthritis. 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.
There are lots of things you can do to help manage your arthritis 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 keeping active. 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 exercises which can help to keep the movement and strength in your hip and knee.
The links below will provide you with some advice and exercise videos you can try before coming in for your operation.
- Exercises to prepare for Knee surgery
- Exercises to prepare for Hip surgery
- General Exercises from Versus Arthritis
- Keeping active and healthy – information by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
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 an assessment with a walking aid because of pain, please speak to your GP about a referral to Physiotherapy.
Before coming in for surgery, it is important to look after yourself. Make sure that 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 could 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 eating healthy foods and maintaining a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight will help ease painful joints in the run-up to your surgery and eating healthy food will help with wound healing.
Smoking can lead to complications after surgery, such as 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.
Your surgery is planned, 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.