The recent pandemic resulted in extensive wait lists because of cancellation of all non-urgent procedures. I recently spoke to someone whose knee replacement surgery has been delayed by about 3 years. Their pain was unbearable and they obviously had some very valid concerns. They inspired me to write about my opinion and suggestions on some common concerns that may arise in similar situations.
1. Will the delay worsen my joint pain?
Sometimes, a delay can lead to increased pain which in turn leads to decreased activity. A decrease in activity levels can affect a person's physical and mental health. It could cause weight gain further contributing to the joint pain. Immobility could also lead to soft tissue tightness and an increased risk of falling. Not moving around and doing things could limit a person's social interactions and could potentially lead to anxiety or depression. Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimize the potential negative outcomes of a delayed surgery. I'll talk about those in my answer to the next question.
2. What can I do to reduce the negative impact of a delayed surgery?
- stay as active as you can, exercise regularly
- you might want to consider a new hobby or type of exercise
- consult with your physician to optimize pain management
- eat healthy, stay hydrated and sleep well
- reduce tripping hazards around your home
- stay socially active, consider joining a support group
- consider using assistive devices to walk if you are scared of falling or feel like your joints are unstable
3. How do I prepare for my surgery while I'm waiting?
- the stronger you are before surgery, the quicker your recovery. So, stay active and exercise everyday
- if weight bearing exercises are not an option, consider chair or bed exercises. Swimming is a good alternative too
- optimize your blood sugar levels as well as your blood pressure. Take all your medications regularly
4. What can I do to ensure a quick recovery?
- arrange and prepare for time off from work if you need to
- smoking cessation helps a lot
- arrange for help with chores around the house for a couple of weeks after surgery
- make your home and day-to-day living more accessible, especially if you have stairs
- you might need adaptive clothing items, consider getting them in advance
- the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation has published a great handbook to help patients prepare for surgery, check it out
Living with pain and dealing with delays in your treatment plan can be stressful. At in4MED, we can make this stressful time easier by providing you with information about your condition, connecting you to local support systems and being there for you as your trusted health advocates. As always, feel free to connect with me or leave a comment.
Healthcare Consultant, in4MED
The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers.
*No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.