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Overcoming Anxiety About Joint Replacement

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Overcoming Anxiety About Joint Replacement

With any medical diagnosis or procedure, it’s normal to have questions or concerns as you start to navigate your options. And this may be the case when you first consider joint replacement surgery. The unknowns of chronic joint pain can make you feel a little anxious.

“Any pain can cause significant anxiety,” says Jason A. Davis, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Total Orthopedics Sports & Spine. “It presents the reality that your body is aging and that you might need surgery, and then it’s easy for your mind to start going to the worst-case scenario.”

However, one of the best ways to help you overcome hesitation or fears is to get expert information about your joint pain and your surgical options. When you understand what to expect before, during, and after joint replacement, it often removes much of the anxiety around it.

Dispelling joint replacement myths

Often, people will seek out information about joint replacement from sources outside their doctor’s office—family, neighbors, or a search on the internet. But these may not provide you with the most reliable or up-to-date facts about joint replacement today.

Here are some common myths about joint replacement that may cause anxiety and the facts about what you can really expect:

  • Myth: I’ll have a long hospital stay.
    Fact: With less-invasive approaches and improvements in the entire care process, many people only need to stay in the hospital for a day or two.
  • Myth: There’s a high risk of complications.
    Fact: While every surgery has risks, joint replacement has been performed for decades, and the options for surgery continue to improve.
  • Myth: The procedure will cause a lot of pain.
    Fact: With advances in pain management for surgery, we’re now better able to manage pain and speed up recovery.
  • Myth: It won’t last, and I’ll need another surgery.
    Fact: The longevity of joint replacement surgery has also improved. Some replacements are now lasing 20+ years.
  • Myth: I won’t be able to do as many activities afterward.
    Fact: You can do a lot with a prosthetic joint today. Many people still do activities like skiing or mountain biking.

“When we talk to patients, we try to dispel myths and spend time educating,” Dr. Davis says. “We talk about the problem, how the surgery works, and the benefits and risks. With patient education and expectations, that alone helps reduce anxiety a great deal.”

Advances in joint replacement care

When it comes to the joint replacement journey, your neighbor’s experience from years ago likely won’t be yours today. In recent years — particularly the last two decades — many aspects of joint replacement have improved.

“Joint replacement is one of the most common and most successful procedures today,” Dr. Davis says. “This is something that we have down to a pretty good science.”

Before joint replacement, the practice of “prehab” has significantly changed how patients prepare for the procedure. Prehab starts weeks before your surgery with pre-surgical exercises and education, which has been shown to improve recovery time after surgery.

For the procedure itself, there have been numerous advances in the types of implants, technology, and approaches used. This has resulted in improvements in longevity, function, and recovery.

After surgery, using multiple options to help you manage pain allows your care team to have you up moving and using your new joint faster. And advances in care mean most patients recover at home without a stay in a rehab facility.

Get expert advice for your joints

In the end, many patients are surprised by how far joint replacement has come. If you’re still feeling anxious about choosing joint replacement surgery, talk with an orthopedic surgeon about your concerns. As experts in joint replacement, they can dispel misunderstandings or anecdotal information and provide you with real data.

Your surgeon can also give you more information about recovery and risks with the procedure. But most patients find that the end results of joint replacement — improved quality of life, reduced pain, and enhanced function — are worth overcoming any temporary anxieties.

“The fact that we can change someone’s quality of life in a matter of weeks should be encouraging to people,” Dr. Davis says. “There is hope with joint replacement.”

If you are experiencing joint pain and would like to schedule an appointment to discuss your options with one of the orthopedic specialist at Total Orthopedics Sports and Spine, please call 972-727-9995 today.