Is it time for joint replacement surgery and you are tempted to put it off until someday? Are you ready to get rid of the pain but not ready for more pain and the long recovery of a big surgery? Have you been making do with alternatives? Oral medications, cortisone injections, walking aids and all of the physical therapy you can get?
But the question lingers…. are you doing more harm than good in waiting? Modern medicine can be great with what they can do, but it’s surgery. For the moment, unless you have an acute injury, you are not complicating your joint replacement surgery due to some procrastination.
Should you have hip or knee arthritis, it is a good thing to check out all your options, including simple treatments or even getting a second opinion. If this is your case, take some time to consider your options. While a short delay of months or a little longer may be in your best interest, a long delay may complicate your condition. You need all of the facts.
Arthritis tends to progress slowly over long stretches of time. Months and years often pass before great damage is seen. Although not always the case, there are instances when damage does progress swiftly, but not overnight. It is when the arthritis has progressed for a long time that there is an increased risk of deformity in the joint, therefore complicating your joint replacement surgery.
As a joint moves less due to arthritis, the soft tissues related to the joint may contract. This results in stiffness. It is important to mention here that the range of motion prior to joint replacement surgery is an indicator of the range of motion expected after surgery.
Somewhere between the stiffness and pain, you are probably not moving very much. If this should continue with advancing arthritis, this will lead to weakened muscles around the joint. This will make recovery from joint replacement surgery more difficult, possibly resulting in the muscles never regaining full strength after surgery.
The Question of Compensation
A controversial problem of delaying joint replacement surgery may be the effect on the other body parts compensating for the weakened joint. Do you notice that your other knee is hurting now? Or if your hip is affected, does your back hurt more? The debate is whether postponing your replacement is hurting other joints more than they can bear.
The last question relating to postponing your joint replacement surgery is, what kind of shape will you be in when someday rolls around? Will your joint replacement surgery become complicated by the ravages of age, weight gain, cardiac and pulmonary conditions, or will you have the endurance needed?
If you have any concerns or questions, do not hesitate to make an appointment with Dr. Struhl, conveniently located in New York or Winchester.