How to Prepare for Rheumatoid Arthritis Surgery

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on October 06, 2020

You’ve scheduled your surgery for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Regardless of the type of procedure, you can prepare before your big date to help your body recover faster and more easily.

Stay active. As much as your doctor allows, exercise and keep moving until your surgery. Being in better shape can speed up your recovery. Ask your doctor about good workouts for you.

Stop smoking. If you smoke, quit. It raises your chances of heart attack, stroke, shock, and other complications during and after your surgery.

Line up support. Some RA surgeries require extra preparation. You may have general anesthesia or an epidural for operations like arthroplasty, arthroscopy, and knee surgery. You may need someone to drive you home when it’s over. It’s also a good idea to ask family and friends to help out at home for a few days with cleaning, cooking, shopping, and other tasks.

Prep your home. Make sure that your house is ready for you when you return, especially if you’re on crutches. Remove loose rugs, electrical cords, or any other tripping or slipping hazards. Pick a comfortable chair to relax in, and make sure railings and banisters are secure. A safe and cozy environment will help you heal better after surgery.

Ask questions. Your doctor will explain your surgery, potential risks, and what to expect afterward. Take notes, if necessary. Being informed can help you better manage any complications.

Make your doctor aware. Tell your doctor if you take any medications, especially aspirin or other blood thinners, or herbal supplements. They also should know if you have any allergies, might be pregnant, or have sleep apnea.

Wear loose clothing. On the day of your surgery, put on comfortable clothing that you can switch into easily when it’s time to go home.

Show Sources


Alberta Health Services: “Carpal Tunnel Release: Before Your Surgery.”

Cooper University Health Care: “How to Prepare for Joint Replacement Surgery.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Arthroplasty.”

Mayo Clinic: “Arthroplasty,” “Sleep apnea,” “General anesthesia.”

Truth Initiative: “Why you should quit smoking before having surgery.”

Medline Plus: “Knee arthroscopy.”

University of Washington: “Knee Surgery for Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

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