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Getting your home ready - knee or hip surgery

Alternate Names

Hip or knee surgery - getting your home ready

What to Expect at Home

You have had hip or knee joint surgery. You will need to be careful not to dislocate your new joint. This is especially important in the first few months after surgery. You will need to learn exercises that make your new hip or knee stronger.

Over time, you should be able to return to your former level of activity. You will need to avoid some sports, such as downhill skiing or contact sports like football and soccer. But you should be able to do low impact activities, such as hiking, gardening, swimming, playing tennis, and golfing.

See also:

Getting Ready to Come Home

Before you go to the hospital for surgery, set up your home so you can get around easily when you come back:

  • Stock up on canned or frozen food, toilet paper, shampoo, and other personal items.
  • Store food in a cupboard that is between your waist and shoulder level. Make sure you can reach everything you need without getting on your tiptoes or bending down low.
  • Put clothes that you will be wearing in drawers and closets between waist and shoulder level.
  • Set up your bed on the first floor if you can.
  • Make sure everything you will need during the day is easy to get to and on the same floor where you will spend most of your time. If you will need to use the stairs, you should not go up and down them more than once a day.
  • Have a bathroom or a portable commode on the same floor where you will spend most of your day.
  • Make sure you can get to your phone. You can alos keep a cordless or cell phone with you.

Have a bed that is low enough so that your feet touch the floor when you sit on the edge of the bed. You will not need a hospital bed, but your mattress should be firm.

Keep tripping hazards out of your home.

  • Remove loose wires or cords from areas you walk through to get from one room to another. Remove loose throw rugs. Do not keep small pets in your home. Fix any uneven flooring in doorways. Use good lighting. See also: Preventing falls
  • Put hand rails in the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet. Place a slip-proof mat in the bathtub or shower. See also: Bathroom safety - adults
  • Do not carry anything when you are walking around. You may need your hands to help you balance.
  • If you will be using a walker, attach a sturdy bag or a small basket to it to hold your phone, a notepad and pen, and other things you will need to have close by.
  • You may also use a fanny pack or a small backpack to hold things you will need to have close by.

You may need help bathing, using the toilet, cooking, running errands and shopping, going to your doctor's office, and exercising. If you do not have someone to help you at home for the first 1 or 2 weeks, ask your doctor or nurse about having a trained caregiver come to your home to help you. This person can also check the safety of your home and help you with your daily activities.

You will need this special equipment for taking care of yourself:

  • A raised toilet seat
  • A shower chair
  • A shower sponge with a long handle
  • A shoehorn with a long handle
  • A cane, crutches, or a walker
  • A reacher to help you pick up things from the floor, put on your pants, and take off your socks
  • A sock aid to help you put on your socks

Ask your doctor about exercises you can do to build up your muscles before surgery. This will help you recover from surgery faster.

Practice using a cane, walker, crutches, or a wheelchair. It is especially important to practice the correct ways to:

  • Sit down to use the toilet and stand up after using the toilet
  • Get in and out of the shower
  • Use the shower chair
  • Go up and down stairs

Review Date: 2/9/2009
Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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