Prepare for Successful Joint Replacement

The Total Joint Center team at Reston Hospital Center encourages you to educate yourself about your upcoming joint replacement by attending a presurgery Joint Replacement Orientation class and reading the Joint Replacement Guidebook, Steps to Success. In addition to easing any concerns you may have and answering your questions about joint replacement, presurgery education has been shown to produce better patient outcomes.

A fun and focused 90-minute session, the Joint Replacement Orientation involves nursing, physical education and discharge planning staff members who explain how to prepare for your surgery, what will happen when you arrive at the hospital, what to do after surgery and what to expect from your total joint replacement. The team will also answer your questions, whether you're a patient or a caregiver.

Sign Up for a Class

Four Joint Replacement Orientation classes are held each month. The orientation class is free, but space is limited.

Register online for an upcoming class or call (877) 689-DOCS (3627).

Information to Help You Get Ready for Your Surgery

In addition to attending your presurgery orientation class, review the following information from the Total Joint Center team to make sure you're ready for your surgery.

Because the last few weeks before surgery can be busy, we recommend you plan ahead so you can focus on your rehabilitation. Your Joint Replacement Orientation class and Joint Replacement Guidebook will provide more detailed information about how to prepare for your surgery.

Remember to:

  • Obtain medical clearance. When you were scheduled for surgery, you should have received a medical clearance letter from your surgeon. The letter contains your instructions about whether you need to see your primary care physician and/or a specialist. If you need to see your primary care physician, it will be for preoperative medical clearance. In addition, you will see your surgeon before your procedure.
  • Schedule your appointments and classes:
    • Surgery date and time
    • Preadmission hospital appointment (PAT) – Call (703) 689-9005 to schedule this nursing history and assessment required for all surgeries. We recommend scheduling your PAT when you schedule your Joint Replacement Orientation class.
    • Presurgery Joint Replacement Orientation class
    • Follow-up appointment – After discharge from the hospital, your surgeon requires a follow-up appointment, usually within seven to 10 days. Schedule this with your surgeon's office before the day of your surgery.
  • Make arrangements with friends or family members to help you return home.

Knowing you'll have lots to think about the day before your surgery, we've prepared a helpful Last Minute Joint Replacement Checklist for you to download and use as a reference as you make final preparations for your surgery.

Your surgery day may be a long one for both you and your caregivers, so get as much sleep as possible the night before.

Arriving at the Hospital

On the day of your surgery, arrive at the hospital at the requested time to ensure additional tests or assessments can be completed before your surgery. Enter the hospital through the main hospital entrance, where you and your family member can take advantage of our free valet parking. If you have difficulty walking, request a wheelchair.

Next, you'll go to our Pre-Operative Unit to be prepared for surgery. While you're in surgery, your friends and family can stay in the surgical waiting area, where they have access to free Wi-Fi and will be kept informed of your status.

Your Hospital Care Team

Your hospital care team encompasses many different health professionals, some of whom you see every day and others who work behind the scenes. Each team member takes a personal interest in your care plan, working with you to make your joint replacement as successful as possible.

Pre-Operative Unit

In preop, your surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurse and other members of your care team will visit you and introduce themselves. Any additional assessments, lab or blood work will be done at this time. The area surrounding your joint will be washed, shaved and prepared. You will also receive preoperative antibiotics.

Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

After surgery, you'll be in the PACU. The nurses in PACU are specially trained to care for patients recovering from anesthesia. Your vital signs–such as blood pressure and heart rate–will be monitored and, when you're ready, you'll be transferred to our fourth floor Total Joint Center.

In the Total Joint Center

Your recovery and rehabilitation begins on our fourth floor surgical unit, known as the Total Joint Center. You'll be in a private room and will see your surgeon, hospitalist (a hospital-based physician), nurses and physical therapists throughout your stay. Our dedicated physical therapists work closely with you, providing education and exercises to help you return to an active life. Case managers assist you and your family as you get ready to go home.

What's the key to success for your joint replacement? Rehabilitation and physical therapy. While you're an inpatient at the Total Joint Center, you benefit from both individual and group physical therapy sessions.

Physical therapy and exercise are important before and after your time in the hospital. Your Joint Replacement Guidebook identifies preoperative exercises, goals and activity guidelines. The Total Joint Center's physical therapy team chooses these activities to help you become as fit as possible before your total joint replacement. Although exercise before your joint replacement surgery may be difficult–and you should stop if it becomes too painful–the effort will make for a much easier recovery.

Recommended exercises focus on arm strengthening, since you will rely on your arms for many daily activities as you recover from surgery. Beyond completing exercises at home, we suggest joining Reston Therapy & Fitness, located on the Reston Hospital campus, which offers preoperative medically supervised fitness training and pre- and postoperative physical therapy. After completing physical therapy, many patients continue to take advantage of the services provided at Reston Therapy & Fitness.

More than 600,000 patients undergo successful joint replacement surgery in the United States every year. For the majority, the new joint will last the rest of their lives, depending on weight, activity level and age.

As with any surgical procedure, joint replacement surgery comes with certain risks. While complications are rare and extensive measures are taken to minimize risk and to be aware of potential problems, including:

  • Infection – Infections may occur in the hospital or after you go home. Areas in the wound or around the new joint are at a higher risk. To minimize the risk of infection, you'll receive antibiotics before and after surgery. Reston Hospital enforces strict infection control policies and procedures in every patient care area. Your patient care team also ensures that the operating site is sterile, all instruments have been sterilized and the number of operating personnel entering and leaving the operating room is limited.
  • Blood Clots – Blood that moves too slowly may form clots (lumps). To help prevent clotting, you may be given medication, special stockings to wear and instruction about exercises you can perform.
  • Pain/Stiffness/Swelling – After surgery, you may experience some stiffness and swelling. As you move your new joint and your muscles strengthen, pain will lessen and your flexibility will increase.
  • Other Risks – Rare but possible risks include implant loosening or dislocation and damage to nerves or blood vessels.

Your surgeon will discuss these and other risks with you and answer your questions. After you've discussed the operation thoroughly with your surgeon, you'll be asked to sign a consent form, confirming you understand the risks and complications associated with joint replacement surgery.

Learn more about knee replacement and hip replacement surgery at our online Health Library.