Your Pre Rheumatoid Arthritis Operation Planner

Need to undergo surgery to help your RA? Planning is the key to a stress-free operation. Learn what to do before you head out for treatment!

Claudia M. Caruana
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If you’re facing major surgery because of your rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you already know to hold the mail at the post office or find a dog-sitter. But a few other steps can help ease you through the experience and set you up for the best outcome!

Calm fears with a stress management class. Many hospitals offer stress-management programs for patients needing major surgery—some are even free or low-cost. And they’re worth the effort: A study from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center suggests that managing the anxiety about your surgery can ease inflammation and boost your immune system, reducing your need for pain meds and helping you recover more quickly.

Meet with your anesthesiologist. Prepare the following for your appointment—the info may affect his choice of anesthetic:

  • Specific health or genetic conditions
  • A list of all medications (including OTC and supplements) you are taking, and the dosage.
  • Your average alcohol consumption (and, if it applies, recreational drugs)

And don’t hesitate to ask questions, such as:

  • Will you prescribe anything to ease post-op pain?
  • Will nausea be a problem after surgery? And if so, how can it be managed? 

Clear confusion by asking your surgeon a few questions. Now’s the time to find out about your procedure. If necessary, ask your surgeon questions such as:

  • Why do I need this surgery?
  • What is it supposed to do?
  • Will I wake up in the recovery room and how long will I be there?
  • How will I feel in the hours and days afterward?

Enlist a family member or close friend. You’ll need a hand coordinating personal and medical affairs while you’re recuperating, including: 

  • Getting home safely from the hospital
  • Following the hospital discharge instructions
  • Filling any prescriptions and make sure you’re taking them as prescribed
  • Going to follow-up appointments
  • Preparing meals, lending an ear or tickling your funny bone!
April 2013