Statistically speaking, the vast majority of patients who undergo a hip or knee replacement tend to do so after many months or years of postponement. We know from clinical experience that the hesitancy often lies in not knowing what to expect. After recovering from a joint replacement, patients often express that they wish they hadn’t waited as long as they did to receive necessary care. While it is natural to feel some degree of hesitancy about having surgery, we hate to hear of people suffering needlessly due to inaccurate perceptions. It is as important that we fully inform patients about their treatment options as it is that we provide the highest standard of clinical care. Here, we discuss some of the common fears surrounding knee and hip replacement and what patients can really expect following one of these surgeries.
Of all the aspects of surgery and recovery, it is the issue of pain that tends to concern patients the most, and these are people who are living with pain every day already. Surgery is performed with general anesthesia, which blocks pain signals from reaching the brain. Anesthesia techniques can also prolong comfort after procedures. In the last decade, post-surgical pain control has improved dramatically, as well, with the development of multimodal pain control methods that may work synergistically to improve comfort. Utilizing these techniques, doctors are able to reduce the chances of pain interrupting the rehabilitation that occurs during recovery.
Studies have found a link between prolonged hospital stays or nursing home care and higher complications after joint replacement. Patient outcomes are better and complications are lower when patients engage in rapid-recovery protocols that have been established in recent years. These are not involved nor are they strenuous. Recovery can be expedited by moving and walking right away after surgery. This enables patients to go home sooner and for the joint to regain optimal function more quickly.
One of the primary goals of joint replacement is to return the patient to a satisfactory level of comfortable activity. Post-operative limitations are temporary and worked through via physical therapy and pain management. These include pain, swelling, and incision healing. Once past the immediate recovery period of one to two weeks, patients can expect to gradually resume normal activities, including taking longer walks, climbing stairs, and engaging in sports like cycling, golf, or yoga.
There is an interesting thing about hip and knee replacement patients. Many of them think they are either too old or too young to have their procedure. While age can influence some of the aspects of joint replacement, it is not a sole factor in patient outcomes. It is simply a matter of considerations, which a skilled surgeon can accommodate well.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique issue for surgeries of all kinds. In many situations, knee and hip replacements are viewed as elective surgeries. Despite challenges, most facilities have been able to successfully implement effective safety protocols to significantly reduce the risk of COVID infection. These include following CDC guidelines, performing or requiring pre-operative COVID-19 testing, use of PPE, and safely minimizing the amount of time patients spend in the hospital or surgery center.
There may be many things to consider before deciding to have joint replacement surgery. With accurate and detailed information, we hope to make your choice a little bit easier. Orthopedic Associates of Long Island has multiple offices to serve you. Contact us to schedule a visit.