With today’s technology, you can have a shoulder replaced in the morning and be back home the same afternoon. Today, your knee or hip replacement surgery happens one day, and the next day you’ll be up walking around.
Even though joint replacement surgery is relatively common, it has the same risks as any other surgical procedure. It’s still a serious decision.
Answering eight simple questions will help you assess the benefits and risks of joint replacement surgery.
1. What’s your level of joint pain?
Pain is usually the symptom that motivates people to seek medical care. Some people seek treatment for mild-to-moderate pain, while others wait until the pain is severe. If you avoid going out of the house or pain interferes with your ability to sleep, it’s time to have your joint examined by an orthopedic specialist.
2. Is your movement limited?
If joint pain limits your ability to stand, walk, or move through your daily life, it could indicate a serious condition that needs medical treatment. If arthritis is causing your pain, you may be a candidate for joint replacement.
3. Are you dealing with other health conditions?
Chronic health conditions can affect the way your joints feel. They can also impact the way your body heals.
Chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes often make joint pain worse. The inability to breathe because of COPD limits a person’s ability to exercise and decreases the amount of oxygen reaching the joints in the arms and legs.
High blood sugar levels associated with diabetes can cause nerve damage and hinder circulation, which can make joint pain worse.
Chronic conditions may also slow your ability to heal after surgery. Tell your orthopedic specialist about any pre-existing health conditions you have. Your orthopedic surgeon can adjust your treatment, so you experience the best outcome after surgery.
4. How are your habits?
If you smoke, quit before you have a joint replacement procedure. Smoking limits the amount of oxygen that reaches your surgical
site. Your body needs healthy doses of oxygen to heal and move. Without a constant supply of oxygen-rich blood, the risk of infection increases.
If you drink alcohol often, give your doctor an honest assessment of how many drinks you have during the week. It will help him or her determine the best course of treatment.
If you’re able, try to walk for 15 to 30 minutes every day during the weeks before surgery. Walking helps strengthen your heart and circulatory system, so you are in better shape for surgery.
5. Are you comfortable with your orthopedic surgeon?
If you’re thinking about joint replacement surgery, ask your family and friends which doctor or clinic they recommend.
Choosing a surgeon is an important part of the joint replacement decision.
You need to work with someone who has experience. Be sure your medical provider considers your needs and respects your values. When people trust their surgeons, they are more likely to follow the doctor’s orders. This type of relationship leads to the best results.
Read the reviews of the surgeons in your area. You can find them online at HealthGrades, Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Read the comments and reviews about surgeons who work in your community or who are part of your insurance company’s plan.
6. Consider how much will the procedure cost?
In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to put a price tag on healthcare. But, very few of us live in a perfect world, and the cost is a factor, especially in the world of high deductibles.
Contact your healthcare provider to make sure you are seeing a surgeon covered by your insurance’s network.
Bone & Joint doesn’t want their patients to avoid medical procedures because of financial hardship. They’ve partnered with Commerce Bank to provide health services financing. This financing is available to patients who need medical services but cannot afford to pay at the time of service. The zero-interest, zero-fee finance plan helps people return to their best level of health.
7. What is the likely result of joint replacement surgery?
When you visit your orthopedic surgeon, talk to him or her about your symptoms, your pain, and your ability to move. Tell them about your pre-existing conditions. After the doctor has all the details about your health, he or she will offer treatment options and explain the risks and possible outcomes of each.
Your surgeon may ask about your goals. It’s an important question. With this knowledge, your surgeon will recommend the treatment that can give you the results you are looking for. Of course, if you couldn’t make a jump shot before you experienced joint pain, don’t expect to make one after joint replacement surgery.
8. Do you have someone to help you during recovery?
Most doctors require patients to have someone with them during the first 24 to 48 hours after surgery for several reasons: Patients:
- need someone to drive them home,
- feel groggy after surgery,
- need help to move from the bed to the bathroom,
- need help with meals and daily care for the first few days,
- need someone to check on them frequently as they become more independent.
Having a companion or partner to help you during recovery, can help you get back on your feet and back to your life sooner.
Your level of pain, ability to move, and pre-existing health conditions are key factors to consider as you make the decision to have your joint replaced. Working with a reputable and skilled orthopedic surgeon can help you choose the best course of treatment to improve your health and the quality of your life.
Bone & Joint’s surgical team performs total and partial joint replacements and reconstructions.