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    Is knee replacement surgery on your calendar? Do yourself a big favor and start to prepare now. It can make your recovery go a whole lot easier and faster.

    Plan early. Even before you set a date, think about how an operation will affect your life. Things may be stressful after joint replacement for at least a few weeks. Preparing now will make it smoother.

    Ask questions. Don't be afraid to get the specifics from your doctor. How long will the surgery take? What type of anesthesia will you need? What kind of rehab will you get? Should you bank blood before the procedure? How long will you likely be out of work? Write down the answers. Better yet, have a trusted friend or family member come to your appointment to take notes.

    Exercise. If possible, try to get in better shape before your surgery. If you're physically fit, you'll have a faster recovery time. Ask your doctor which exercises you should do before the operation. If you improve your upper body strength, it will make it easier for you to use crutches or a walker.

    Tweak your lifestyle. If you smoke, try to quit or cut down. Smoking can slow down recovery and wound healing. If you're heavy, make an effort to drop a few pounds before your surgery. Losing weight will reduce the stress on your new knee and help you heal. Smoking and obesity both raise the risk of complications with joint replacement surgery.

    Start practicing. Before surgery, learn what sorts of physical therapy exercises you'll need afterward. Try them out. If you get used to them now, they'll be easier to do later. If you'll need crutches or a walker, give them a test drive, too.

    Write down all your medical info. Make a list of the medicines and supplements you take, any health conditions you have, your insurance information, your doctors' names, and whom to contact in an emergency. Lots of different people will be asking you about these things in the coming weeks. It's helpful to have a note that you can show them.