The prospect of surgery can be daunting, but the current pandemic is causing many who suffer from painful joints to reconsider surgery. These delays could lead to loss of function, more pain and an increased risk of further damage. Fortunately, safety measures mean you can have your much-needed surgery with minimal risk of contracting the virus.
The Problems With Delaying Surgery
If your physician has told you that joint surgery is necessary, it is crucial to consider the problems that could arise if you delay:
- Increased joint deformity – The longer you delay your surgery, the more prone the joint is to further damage. This could actually make surgery at a later date harder to perform.
- Joint stiffness and immobility – As arthritis progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for the joint to move. This leads to joint stiffness and contracting of the muscles and ligaments surrounding the joint.
- Muscle weakening – The longer you delay surgery, the more muscles surrounding the joint weaken, making it more difficult to move. Even after surgery, these muscles may never fully recover.
- Impact on other joints – As you attempt to lessen the pressure on the damaged joint, you may start to put more pressure on others to compensate. This could even lead to damage in other parts of the body.
- Overall health – A painful joint robs you of quality of life and can lead to weight gain, lack of endurance and even cardiac and pulmonary problems.
- Mental and emotional strain – The pain, coupled with the pandemic, can cause emotional and mental strain that can worsen your situation.
The COVID-19 Fear
In an October CBS New York article, Zimmer Biomet, a medical device company, discovered that 48% of American candidates for joint surgery have decided to delay due to fears of the COVID-19 pandemic. The article also cites a Gallup survey that found, “55% of adult joint replacement candidates said that they are held back from enjoying a normal life due to severe joint pain, with symptoms like decreased mobility and trouble sleeping.”
While fear of the pandemic is understandable, joint replacement surgery can be performed safely and with very minimal exposure risk. The important thing to consider is if the delay of treatment will have a negative impact that will significantly diminish your quality of life. If your doctor is confident in the treatment and the COVID-19 safety precautions, you can feel more confident in going ahead with the surgery.
Orthopedic Surgery Safety
Hospitals are diligent about following the CDC guidelines for safety during the pandemic. COVID-19 patients are housed on separate floors from other patients, rigorous testing procedures are in place, and extra precautions are taken to ensure the safety of staff and patients alike. Pre-surgery COVID-19 testing, proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and social distancing measures are in place.
Orthopedic surgery can often be performed on an outpatient basis, further lessening your exposure. Technology plays an important part in recovery, as well. Telehealth visits are an excellent way to check in with your doctor as you recover. Some doctors can use smartphone apps linked with smartwatches to monitor patient activity.
This year has impacted all of us. The prolonged stress of the pandemic can wear on the healthiest person. If you have been told that you need a joint replacement but are afraid of the risk of COVID-19 exposure, check with your doctor. At Silicon Valley Orthopaedics, we are dedicated to providing you with the finest in orthopaedic care while following the most stringent safety measures. There is no need to delay relief. Call us today with any questions you may have.