Are you scheduled for joint replacement surgery or have you been told that you may be a candidate for it in the future? If so, there are a few things you can do right now that may make the road a little smoother. You may even be able to delay the surgery, which always comes with some amount of risk. First of all, get fit. You are probably not surprised to hear me say that. But it’s the best thing you can do. The stronger your muscles around the joint are, the better your recovery will be. If you are overweight, shed some pounds. Extra weight on the joints increases pain. If you are a smoker, do your best to stop. Smoking interferes with blood flow patterns and can delay healing. Hey, this sounds familiar. Oh yeah. we should all do these things, joint pain or not.
Seek the advice of a physiotherapist or chiropractor who can give strengthening and stretching exercises. Work with a sports injury therapist or personal trainer, especially if you have been diagnosed with arthritis. Find an activity that gets blood flow through the joint but does not increase the pain. Choose swimming over running. Try cycling, weight training or yoga. Choose non-impact activities. Avoid, or choose less often, “stop/start” activities such as basketball or tennis. Certainly still do what you love to do if you are able to modify it to avoid pain.Very often pain and discomfort can be greatly reduced and managed through the correct activity. Surgery may even be delayed for a few years. I have had numerous people tell me that after they started cycling or doing yoga on a regular basis, that being 4 or 5 times a week, they were pain free and found surgery to be unnecessary.
Be sure that you actually do need the surgery before going under the knife. Your physician and an advanced practice physiotherapist, who are trained in assessing patients with arthritis, can determine if the surgery will make your pain better or worse. I believe we need to spend health dollars wisely. Get extensive assessment of joint pain. Treat without surgery if possible. Improve the quality of your life by following the tips above as much as possible.