September 30, 2021 12:30:53 pm
Chronic pain in multiple joints affects one in four adults over the age of 18. By the age of 65, about two in five adults are affected. According to WHO, approximately 30 per cent of the world’s population suffers from pain. However, many patients in need of joint replacement surgery are postponing their procedures because of pandemic-related concerns.
“There is no doubt that fear from such a dreaded infection has scared everyone to think 10 times before undergoing any planned surgical procedure like knee or hip replacement,” said Dr Biren Nadkarni, senior consultant, Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Surgeon at Sitaram Bhartia Institute and Holy Family Hospital, New Delhi.
He added that many patients who suffer from chronic hip and knee pain have been “confused and stressed about proceeding with surgery, not knowing if they can, and not knowing what their options are”. “The reality is that, even without the stress of a pandemic, people often wait far too long to consider a more permanent solution to severe or persistent joint pain — joint replacement,” noted Dr Nadkarni.
While many people would rate their joint pain as difficult and debilitating, they often view surgery as a last-resort treatment. Do not let fear of surgery or coronavirus keep you from doing something about your pain, he said.
“Joint pain, due to underlying degenerative or inflammatory arthritis, is usually managed non-operatively initially. But a stage comes when these modalities don’t work any longer and patients tend to become bedridden and analgesic dependent. Uncontrolled pain, which is the most important reason for undergoing joint replacement surgery, can cause sleep disturbance, depression, state of hopelessness. These patients opt for joint replacement surgery so that they can get independently mobile,” said Dr Nadkarni.
Consequences of delaying joint replacement surgery
“My fear with patients who are putting the surgery off due to the fear of coronavirus is that they will get to the point where their rehab becomes difficult or impossible to do. If you get debilitated to the point that you can’t do that rehab, then the recovery is going to be tough,” he expressed.
Now, recovery doesn’t take as long as it used to, he shared. Surgical technique and technology improvements have reduced recovery time, making joint replacement surgery “more efficient, predictable and less painful”. “This means people not only regain function more rapidly after surgery, but data also shows that patients usually return to their jobs within six weeks,” he said.
We’re also better at controlling patients’ pain before, during and after surgery with new medications and using older medications a bit differently, depending on the patient’s needs, he added.
Is it safe then?
Yes. We know that any patient who needs joint replacement has psychological pressure of being exposed to Covid19. But hospitals have gone to great lengths to make elective surgeries safe in the in-patient setting. Hospitals are completely following CDC guidelines and keeping surgical patients on separate floors from the Covid patients.
If you’re considering a joint replacement, know that hospitals and clinics are safe and taking extra precautions, including:
*Requiring all patients, visitors and employees to wear masks
*Screening patients and employees upon arrival
*Isolating Covid patients from other patients
*Practicing social distancing in our waiting rooms
*Utilising video visits to reduce patient traffic
*Increasing housekeeping and vigilance in the disinfection protocols
*Testing every patient for Covid prior to surgery
“Coronavirus is going to be with us for some time. But your doctor can help you understand if a joint replacement is right for you, as well as discuss any fears or concerns you may have about the procedure or timing. Knee and hip replacement surgeries are being performed with utmost care and safety,” said Dr Nadkarni.
📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.
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