Medically Reviewed by Rodney K. Alan, MD
With experienced, talented Orthopedic Surgeons and modern materials, a hip or knee joint replacement almost always has a successful clinical outcome. Joint Replacement complications are in the low single digits.
However, successful joint replacement does not always mean you will be satisfied with the outcome. Your satisfaction has much to do with knowing the expected outcome after joint replacement.
SETTING REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
“Realistic expectations result from an ongoing conversation with your surgeon,” says McLeod Orthopedic Specialist Rodney Alan, MD. “Start by asking the questions that concern you most. Make sure you understand what you are getting. You should ask your surgeon questions like, How long will it take for me to recover? What is my expected activity level after full recovery? Will I have any activity restrictions after surgery? If you are not satisfied with the answers, seek an opinion from another surgeon.”
Pain control is one of the most important issues for many patients both before and after joint replacement surgery. Pain control is the single most important factor affecting patient satisfaction after joint replacement. Discuss your pain management plan with your surgeon prior to the procedure. Tell your surgeon which medications have helped with pain control after other surgeries.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons urges you to “openly discuss your fears and expectations, as well as your past experiences with pain control” with your Orthopedic Specialist and their team members, such as nurses, physician assistants and technologists. You should receive a clear explanation of what medications will be used to control your pain, what levels of pain you might experience and how to express that pain level on a scale of 1-10.
To manage pain, there is a move away from heavy reliance on narcotic opioid medications because of the side effects. To keep your pain at a minimum, a blend or “cocktail” of different medications sorts is used.
Your attitude is also an important dimension of your satisfaction. A Canadian study finds that optimistic patients suffer less pain following the operation than pessimistic individuals, who believe they will have much pain.
There’s no way to completely eliminate anxiety about surgery. Yet, being fully prepared for your surgery and recovery at home removes many nagging questions make you anxious. For tips to help you prepare, click here.
Ask questions of your medical team. Keep asking until you understand.
With realistic expectations, an optimistic attitude and a plan for at-home recovery in place, you can look forward to a better recovery with less ongoing pain and a more active living.
Find an Orthopedic Specialist near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, British Medical Journal (BMJ), Arthritis Research & Therapy, International Congress for Joint Reconstruction, Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, Foot and Ankle International, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1999 National Pain Survey