Nearly one in four adults in the U.S. endures chronic, debilitating joint pain that requires surgery. However, many people are delaying moving forward with procedures due to the uncertainties, and stress caused by COVID-19. In the meantime, the pain continues to impact quality of life, limiting mobility and even basic day-to-day activities.
If you’re experiencing joint pain and considering joint preservation surgery, the pandemic doesn’t mean you have to delay surgery. In some parts of the country, elective surgeries are being performed safely in an outpatient setting where there is minimal risk of being exposed to COVID-19. Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brian McKeon weighed in on the top three reasons you should schedule your elective surgery sooner rather than later, especially if staying active is a priority for you in 2021.
- Resuming elective surgery in an outpatient setting could be a safer alternative. “Amid the pandemic, many hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers have implemented additional safety measures making it possible to continue conducting joint preservation and replacement surgeries while reducing exposure to COVID-19,” said Dr. McKeon. “I encourage patients to talk with their doctor, and together, they may decide to proceed with the joint procedure in a slightly safer setting such as an ambulatory surgery center versus a hospital to minimize risks.”
In many cases, joint preservation procedures can be performed in an outpatient surgery setting with no overnight stay required, compared to inpatient surgery when the patient could remain in the hospital for several days. Limiting the amount of time spent in a hospital setting is crucial to reducing exposure to COVID-19, especially as cases continue to surge across the country. As healthcare facilities are isolating specific areas for treatment of COVID-19 patients, the risk of viral transmission in other facilities is significantly decreased.
- Delaying your elective surgery could lead to long-term health consequences. “Just because a procedure is billed as elective doesn’t mean it’s not necessary to address a chronic condition and preserve a patient’s quality of life,” said Dr. Brian McKeon, an orthopedic surgeon at New England Baptist Hospital. “I encourage patients to talk with their doctor about the risks of having or delaying a procedure and what the long-term consequences might be to their health.”
Delaying elective surgery can impact health outcomes, cause increased pain and reduce quality of life for people who are suffering. If you are struggling with pain caused by osteoarthritis, the wear and tear of cartilage inside the joints will only continue to worsen as time goes on, leading to increased inflammation and degeneration. Addressing your joint pain will put you on a faster track to recovery and a better quality of life. Even before the pandemic, joint preservation technologies have been introduced to help surgeons recreate the native shape of the joint, remove minimal bone, and minimize wear and loosening. Unlike a traditional total joint replacement, the Arthrosurface® Joint Preservation Systems allow patients to resume full activity post-surgery and live an independent lifestyle. Use our Find A Doctor tool to speak with a surgeon who can help you determine if joint preservation is right for you.
- Spending your remaining FSA balance wisely on surgery preparation. Don’t let your 2020 Flexible Spending Account (FSA) funds go to waste. Not all FSA deadlines are the same, but many end on December 31st. That means hundreds if not thousands of dollars could be left unspent if you don’t put it to good use. If you’re planning your joint replacement surgery for 2021, you can spend the remainder of 2020 preparing for the procedure. Use your remaining FSA funds on qualifying purchases like over-the-counter pain relief medications and working with a nutritionist on a weight-loss plan. Getting into better shape prior to surgery can shorten your recovery time and the post-operative rehabilitation process. You can check your current FSA balance by calling your provider.
Don’t let chronic joint pain continue to rule your life. Continue to do your research and be ready to have an informed conversation with your doctor about the type of surgical procedure that’s right for you, and when to schedule it. To identify a doctor who can help determine the right joint procedure for you, use our Find A Doctor tool.