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Things to Ask Your Doctor Before Surgery

    1. Will I have weight lifting restrictions?

    It is common to have a 5-10 pound weight lifting restriction after a surgery or procedure for a week or 2 (sometimes longer).

    2. What will my weight bearing status be?

    If you get surgery on a lower limb, sometimes you'll need to keep weight off of it or limit the weight you put on it so that it best heals

    3. How long will I have restrictions?

    You'll want to know how long any restriction is going to impact you.  Some common ones include

    - no lifting more than 5-10pounds for 2 weeks after cardiac ablat

    -non-weight bearing for 6-8 weeks after ankle surgery

    4. What activity/movement restrictions will I have?

    Sometimes certain movements are not allowed for a certain duration after surgery.  Common ones include 

    - don't lift the arm overhead that's on the same side of a pacemaker for some time 

    - hip precautions after a hip replacement (don't cross your legs/don't bend the hip past 90 degrees/don't turn your knee in (internal rotation of the hip)) - not necessarily present for all types of hip replacement 

    5. When can I drive?

    This answer will depend on a variety of factors including

    what activity restrictions you have & the duration of them

    How long you need pain medications or any medication that specifies you should not operate heavy machinery if you took it

    6. When can I go back to work?

    Make sure to tell your doctor what you do for work in answering this question.  The answer is vastly different for people depending on what physical activities are required for work.

    7. When can I return to certain activities/hobbies?

    Sometimes you'll have to pause doing some hobbies after surgery.  Also, it is best to gradually get back into an activity once the doctor clears you for it, especially if it's higher intensity.

    8. When/how can I shower/bathe?

    Sometimes the nature of an incision or dressing means you have to avoid submerging it in water or even limit any water splashing on it.  Sometimes there are ways to bathe while covering the incision and sometimes an equivalent of sponge bathing is temporarily required.

    9. How will this effect future surgeries/dental work?

    If having a joint replacement or fixation of a fracture, antibiotics may have to be taken prior to any dental work.  Also, you may have to avoid having dental work done for a certain period of time prior to some surgeries.

    10. How will physical therapy work after surgery?

    A lot of surgeries can have physical therapy after.  It can be at home, outpatient, or at a rehab facility. It's a lot easier to have plans squared away before surgery than trying to figure out what you're doing after.  It's best to find out what insurance will cover before surgery as well.  Also if you have a decent amount of difficulty moving prior to surgery, it's best to arrange to have increased help at home, avoid stairs, improve your home set up, or arrange for a rehab stay until you are able to move more safely.  This conversation before surgery can save a bit of aggravation after as surgeons frequently anticipate that someone will go home after a surgery.  Even if you move well, it's always best to arrange for help the first 24 to 48 hours at home (sometimes longer depending on your situation).

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