Lockdown has been hard for people on many different levels but if you are waiting for joint replacement surgery, you’ve probably experienced it harder than most. Chronic pain can be tiring and debilitating and if you have a degenerative condition like arthritis the pain may have been getting steadily worse and your mobility may have declined. It is important to keep moving to keep the joints flexible and supple and spending months indoors, particularly if you have been shielding, may have taken its toll on your orthopaedic health.
What happens next?
So, the fact that we are now starting to emerge from lockdown is great news but you may well find yourself with unanswered questions about what happens next, how long you may still have to wait, whether it is safe to have the Covid vaccination alongside surgery and so on.
Ongoing uncertainty may be adding to your anxiety levels so we will do our best to answer some of your questions here.
How long will I have to wait?
Number 1 is likely to be ‘How much longer will I have to wait?’ Unfortunately, because so many operations were put on hold during lockdown there is now a considerable backlog which means continuing delays. It is impossible to say, at this stage, how long it will take to clear this backlog. This is the why that some people are choosing to have their joint replacement surgery done privately but we realise that this is not a possibility for everyone.
What can I do to ease my joint pain?
So, the second question might be ‘What can I do to ease the pain while I wait for surgery?’ This is an important question as it could make a significant difference to your quality of life over the coming weeks and months. It’s important to keep on top of your pain levels by taking your medication regularly and ensuring you have the right dosage. If you feel your pain is not under control, talk to your doctor who may be able to increase the strength of your painkillers.
Losing weight, if you are overweight, can reduce pressure on damaged joints and reduce inflammation in your body, as fat releases proteins that cause inflammation. When the time comes for your operation, being overweight can increase your risk of complications and lead to a longer length of stay in hospital so it can be a very beneficial use of time, while you are waiting for surgery, to develop a healthy eating regime. Your doctor or surgeon may be able to assist you if you need additional support.
Taking supplements may also help to ensure you have the best possible outcomes when you undergo your joint replacement surgery. Vitamin E helps wounds to heal well, although you should avoid taking these supplements in the last few weeks before surgery as they can increase the risk of bleeding. Vitamin D helps to increase bone density and Vitamin C and zinc helps to keep your immune system functioning well, which also supports efficient healing.
How can I prepare mentally?
It is also important to prepare yourself mentally, if you can, and devising a regime of gentle exercise – particularly one that gets you out in the fresh air can be a good way to improve suppleness in your joints as well as helping you to feel better overall.
Can I have a Covid vaccination alongside surgery?
If you are still to receive your Covid-19 vaccination, the British Orthopaedic Association has issued some helpful guidance to help you determine the best time to get vaccinated if you are due to undergo orthopaedic treatment. The BOA advises waiting fourteen days after having the vaccine before undergoing surgery. This is to make sure that any symptoms that can arise from the vaccine, such as fever, aches and pains, are not mistakenly attributed to post-surgical complications, as the same symptoms can be caused by an infection. This applies to both doses of the vaccine.
Is it safe to undergo surgery right now?
Most orthopaedic surgeons, including Castle Orthopaedics, continue to require patients to self-isolate for fourteen days prior to surgery and to take a Covid test immediately beforehand to safeguard all of our patients, including the most vulnerable. All hospitals, both private and public, have stringent measures in place to contain the spread of the virus and you will be required to comply with these before, during and after surgery. Full details will be supplied by your surgeon.
If you are waiting for joint replacement surgery, talk to your orthopaedic surgeon about your individual circumstances, particularly if you have concerns or you are experiencing worsening symptoms. They will be able to clarify precise details about the timing of your surgery and the best way you can prepare yourself to increase your chances of making a good recovery.
Orthopaedic specialists – Nottingham
Our orthopaedic consultants each specialise in a particular area of orthopaedics, giving you added peace of mind that you are receiving expert medical advice and highly tailored treatment.
BMI The Park Hospital
Sherwood Lodge Drive Burntstump Country Park, Arnold NG5 8RX
Spire Nottingham Hospital
Tollerton Ln, Tollerton, Nottingham NG12 4GA