Should I Get Surgery?
Making the decision on whether or not to get orthopaedic surgery can be a difficult one. On the one hand, having surgery can greatly improve your quality of life and allow you to enjoy activities that you once enjoyed; on the other hand, sometimes you cannot be certain that surgery will be the cure-all, or that surgery will not come with its own complications. Here is a look at the most important questions you should be asking as you consider whether or not to get surgery for an injury or chronic condition.
Have you tried physical therapy?
It is typically best to consider less invasive options before opting for surgery. Sometimes physical therapy can produce the same or better results without you having to go under the knife. Talk with your orthopaedic specialist about types of physical therapy that may address your condition, and consider trying those before looking into surgery. If you have already done physical therapy, on the other hand, and it just doesn’t seem to be addressing the issue, then surgery may be your best (and only) option for treatment.
Is it affecting daily living or inhibiting important activities?
If you experience knee pain only when you run but hate running or rarely run, then it may be a good idea to hold off on surgery. After all, if you are not aggravating the injury further, it may very well go away on its own within a year or two. On the other hand, if you love running or absolutely need to run, and you have already tried other options, then surgery is definitely an option to consider. Surgery could be the one solution that allows you to return to the lifestyle you enjoyed prior to injury.
How much will it cost?
Cost is definitely a primary consideration for many who are looking at surgery. If your orthopaedist strongly recommends getting surgery, and you know that the surgery will be relatively inexpensive or free after working with your health insurance provider, then go for it. In fact, it may even be beneficial to have your surgery done at the beginning of the year so that you can hit your deductible and essentially get free healthcare for the rest of the year (if your healthcare plan works that way).
How long will the recovery period be?
Don’t forget to take recovery time into consideration. Find out how long the expected recovery time is and how long you will be on pain medication. In addition, ask your orthopaedic specialist how long you should expect to experience post-surgical pain. Then, reflect on your own lifestyle and upcoming plans, and think about how you might factor in a recovery from surgery. If you are going on vacation with your family within the next few months, for example, then it is probably best to schedule a rotator cuff surgery for after your trip.
Has anyone in your family had negative reactions to anesthesia?
If so, or if you have never had surgery before, you should talk with your orthopaedic specialist about what special accommodations may be available to you.
What does your orthopaedic specialist recommend?
Overarching everything, ask your orthopaedic specialist what they recommend. Get a second or third option if you feel that you need to. An orthopaedic specialist can survey which treatment options you have already tried, assess how likely surgery is to solve the problem, and inform you of what risks might be associated with surgery, if any.