Knee, hip and other joint replacement surgery can be effective treatment to alleviate pain and enhance physical functioning. It also has a great effect on overall health and health‐related quality of life. The surgical techniques of joints replacement have improved continuously over the last decade and the risks associated with the operation have been reduced to a minimum. Although surgery has many benefits, sometimes it is unavailable because of waiting lines. A patient may have to wait for surgery from 3, 6 and even 12 months and more.
It goes without saying that waiting for care might allow both patients and hospitals to plan for operation. From this point of view waiting lists are important tools to manage access to health care. However, long waiting lines prolong time people spend with poorer quality of life, pain, lack of mobility, and reduced independence and are likely to devote significant economic costs on individuals, their families, and on society. Economic costs arising from long waiting might include medical costs for physician visits, medications, mobility aids, different personal costs and societal costs. Moreover, it is found, that waiting for orthopedic surgery is associated with worse outcomes 12 months later.
Orthopedic pain is considered a severe type of pain that any patient can experience. A few general methods of pain treatment are known: pharmacologic, physical and psychological. The goal is to relieve symptoms with minimal side effects and discomfort. First level of treatment for aching backs, hips, knees and shoulders joints may be relieved with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin. If these drugs do not provide enough relief, the next step is to consider steroid injections into the affected joint, which relieve the pain and flare-ups, but they offer no lasting benefit. If there is still pain – opiates can be used. Before using any of medications the patient should consult with his doctor.
A variety of measures and ways to reduce pain are also practiced. For example, exercises or warm therapy can help maintain function, reduce pain and stiffness. Pain can also be an indicator of the need for rest and in this way relaxation would be enough for patients with unhealthy joints. However, it is very important to find a balance between rest and exercises, because too much immobility can lead to muscle weakness. Massage therapy also can quicken pain relief, soothe stiff sore muscles and reduce inflammation and swelling, because when muscles are relaxed and circulation is increased, pain decreases. Patient can also try acupuncture or nerve block, some herbs and supplements or even hypnosis.
First, a patient should perform exercises in order to strengthen the muscles around the joints. Weak muscles across joint may be associated with some risks and more pain before and after surgery. That is why regular, light exercises help to relieve pain and correctly prepare for the surgery. Recommended exercises include walking, swimming, elliptical exercisers, and similar activities. Second, studies show that obese patients are associated with higher risks of having complications, component failure, and worse outcomes after joint arthroplasty than other patients. Losing excess body weight relieves pain by unloading the joint and also decreases surgical risks and provides better results of the surgery. It is also recommended before a surgery to avoid stairs and falls on concrete floors, deep bending at the joint and other traumatic situations. Finally, surgical patients have to expect to be continually assessed by their physician to ensure they are as comfortable as possible.
Our patient Sean was interviewed by the largest British commercial channel news. He was facing 50 weeks waiting time for a joint replacement. Sean chose our clinic and after applying for the NHS funding the whole thing, including flights, surgery and after care cost him just £556 out of his own pocket (£6,400 full cost). Watch the interview here