Before you go in for your total elbow joint replacement surgery you might want to familiarize yourself with certain things you can’t do for a while as well as some advice on what you can.
- Don’t use your surgery arm when getting out of bed or up from a chair. Use the opposite arm – This may seem like a no-brainer but a lot of patients go in for surgery on their dominant hand’s elbow and end up with a painful reminder later. However, this is something you can work on beforehand. In the weeks leading up to your surgery practice getting out of chairs or bed or leaning on your non-surgery hand. If this is your non-dominant hand it might be a struggle at first, but practice makes perfect and it’ll be worth it in the long run.
- Try not to pull anything to you – Flexing your elbow might be part of your rehabilitation exercises but when not in physical therapy it’s important to minimize the flexing of the joint to give it time to heal. This is another thing you can practice before surgery. Taking stock of the things you do in a day like dressing or opening doors will help you acclimate to doing things with your non-surgery arm.
- Do remember that your mental and physical health may tire more easily – Surgery takes a toll on you mentally and physically. Not only will your body be using a lot of energy to repair itself you may also be on medications that will make you drowsy. You may want to plan a rest period of 30 to 60 minutes mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Don’t push yourself too hard. It’s also important to keep mentally active. Binging on tv is a popular post-surgery tradition, but look for other things to do too that engage your brain. Do gentle yoga, go for a walk, visit with a friend, do a puzzle. Keeping mentally active will help avoid boredom and make you feel better overall.
- Do avoid certain household chores – You do a lot every day that you may not realize requires a lot of arm movement such as raking, sweeping, mopping, and running the vacuum cleaner using your surgery arm. You can adapt some of these chores such as by using long-handled feather dusters for dusting high and low items, but you can also ask for the help of your loved ones in doing these tasks. If you have the finances for it hiring outside help may also be an option. You can also mitigate the need to do some of these chores by doing a deep clean of your home and yard prior to your surgery. Then it won’t be as piled up if things don’t get done for a few weeks after surgery.