Joint replacement is major surgery. And what you may not know is how many people are joining the numbers of patients who have undergone this procedure. As more active adults move into the stage of their lives where arthritis in their joints is slowing them down, joint replacement surgery is becoming more common.
Advances in surgical technique, pain management, and anesthesia are making it possible for a total joint replacement to be an outpatient procedure. In addition to the time, a patient saves by not staying in the hospital for several days, outpatient surgery is significantly less expensive for patients and insurance companies. Is recovering from outpatient joint replacement any different?
Who is a candidate?
It turns out that not every patient is a candidate for outpatient joint replacement. Some patients are best cared for in the hospital for two or more days if they are at risk for complications from the surgery.
Some of the reasons a surgeon will not perform the procedure in a surgical center or outpatient facility include if the patient is overweight or has a BMI of 35 or greater. If the patient is not in good general health, suffers from diabetes or heart disease, they are not good candidates. Some surgeons have a cut-off age for outpatient procedures, such as age 70, but others ascribe more importance to good health and engagement in the process. A patient must have a support system at home, as well. No one can be self-sufficient following joint replacement surgery. Those who live alone may have no choice but to stay in the hospital for a few days where help is always nearby.
Before the procedure
If you will be having a same-day joint replacement, you should know what to expect. Your surgical team will go over the immediate post-op procedures and what you will need to do when you return home. Although there is a slightly higher chance of post-operative complications that require a hospital stay, patients who have outpatient joint replacement report higher satisfaction rates than those who stay in the hospital. You will also be fitted with crutches and given a chance to practice walking with them. Your home will need to be adapted for your immediate recovery needs, as well – that might mean setting up a bed on a lower level or moving furniture to create clear paths.
Your surgeon will educate you on which events require immediate attention since there will be no medical support staff with you after you return home. It is your responsibility to recognize a serious medical event – fever, infection, excessive bleeding, etc. – and initiate prompt treatment. This means keeping a cool head if something goes wrong.
Manage your pain
Advances in pain management techniques allow for more procedures to be done on an outpatient basis. You will not be permitted to go home if your pain is not under control. With the help of your home support, you will get any prescription pain medication after your procedure and instructions on how best to help your body heal with minimal pain.
Do your exercises
You also have to be able to walk before you can go home. In addition to these first few fuzzy steps, you need to follow your doctor’s post-op plan for rehabilitation and strengthening. You will no doubt receive physical therapy as you heal, but those first few days will require your at-home participation.
Forward-thinking doctors with access and interest in the latest surgical techniques are always looking for ways to save patients from pain and recovery time. If you have an orthopedic injury or need joint replacement due to advanced arthritis, call Movement Orthopedics in Clinton Township, Michigan at 586-436-3785 for an appointment today.