Is It Time For Surgery?
Arthritis can wreak havoc on joints like the knee, hip, shoulder, and even ankle. For some, the pain and stiffness can put a damper on the quality of life. So much is the pain, the thought of surgery comes up more often than not. Before going under the knife, people with arthritis must gather as much information as possible. From there, patients can make an informed decision on the future of the joint.
Why total joint replacement?
Joints are part of the skeletal system and help with movement and flexibility. The cartilage in between these joints helps with shock absorption. Arthritis can wear down both bone and cartilage, making movement painful and difficult. Sometimes, the best bet is surgery via a total joint replacement. A surgeon will remove damaged cartilage and even bone, then install synthetic parts. Before opting for surgery, these 3 key questions can help potential patients make the right choice.
1. What is your success rate with total joint replacement?
Don’t hesitate to ask about the surgeon’s track record and express any safety concerns. Most orthopedic surgeons have performed hundreds, if not thousands, of total joint replacements. In fact, more than 900,000 joint replacements happen every year. Of course, with any surgery, there are risks. However, joint replacement has a high success rate of more than 90%. Make sure to ask the doctor for testimonials or examples of past results.
2. What are the risks if I decide not to have surgery?
Some patients hope to delay surgery or find relief from non-surgical methods. But is this the right thing to do? Arthritis is a condition that gradually degrades the joint. So in the short-term, the patient can still use conservative methods with varying results. Long-term, the joint can become deformed, making movement difficult. A typical example is the shortening of one leg due to hip arthritis. The surrounding muscles also become weaker. Since movement becomes difficult, persons are also at risk of developing diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
3. What should I expect during recovery?
Successful surgery is a significant part of reducing pain. However, this is just the beginning of a lengthy recovery process. Patients will need to get accustomed to the new joint. For starters, a detailed physical therapy regimen helps with strengthening the joints and muscles. There will still be some pain and stiffness after surgery, which will be reduced significantly with therapy. Recovery can take up to 6 weeks, and the patient may need a walker or cane. In about 6 months, the patient should experience the full benefits of total knee replacement.
Build confidence in your surgery
Surgery is a serious procedure that can change anyone’s life. Total joint replacement, in particular, can restore range of motion and reduce pain. Being informed about the risks can help with any fears about surgery. Because, as mentioned, delaying the procedure can have more severe, long-term effects. Relay these and other questions to an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible.