Over the coming weeks and months, we expect there to be a gradual return to normal as we emerge from lockdown. If you are waiting for joint replacement surgery, this is likely to be particularly welcome as many people have experienced a worsening of symptoms during the pandemic.
As lockdown restrictions ease, our phones have been ringing here in the clinic with patients anxious to understand what will happen next. Here are some of the answers to the questions we get asked most often. If your question is not answered here, please feel free to call us…
Is joint replacement surgery happening now?
Yes, this type of routine surgery is now starting to happen again. However, over lockdown we have seen a backlog of patients build up and, unfortunately, this could mean further long delays. Your orthopaedic consultant will be in contact with you to discuss what will happen next. Some NHS patients who are able to are contacting private orthopaedic consultants to discuss having the procedure done privately, which may mean you are able to be seen and treated quicker.
Is it safe to have the Covid 19 vaccine if I’m scheduled to have joint replacement surgery?
The British Orthopaedic Association has put together guidance to help patients and their consultants decide on the best time for orthopaedic treatment alongside vaccinations for Covid 19. It advises waiting seven days after having the vaccine before undergoing surgery. This applies to both doses and the reason is to avoid any confusion between symptoms arising from the vaccine (such as high temperature) and possible complications after surgery.
Do I need to self-isolate before joint replacement surgery?
Yes, we are continuing to ask patients to self-isolate between seven to ten days prior to surgery and to take a Covid test immediately before the procedure. This is to ensure the safety of all patients and it also applies to those who have been vaccinated. Talk to your orthopaedic surgeon about their individual self-isolation requirements.
How can I best prepare for joint replacement surgery?
While you are waiting for joint replacement surgery there are many things you can do to prepare your body and mind and ensure you have the best possible outcomes. If you are malnourished you may not make such a good recovery and your risk of complications can be higher. Consider making some dietary changes to ensure you are eating a healthy balanced diet. Vitamin C and zinc supplements may help to maintain an efficient immune system, which is vital for wound healing, and vitamin D helps to increase bone density and promote calcium absorption. Vitamin E is also important for wound healing, although you should stop taking these supplements for at least two weeks before surgery as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
Being overweight increases the risk of complications following joint replacement surgery. Research has shown that obese patients experience longer operations, have more blood loss and need more intra or post-operative blood transfusions. They are also likely to have a longer length of stay in hospital after surgery and higher complication rates. Carrying excess weight puts extra pressure on your joints and can exacerbate symptoms of conditions like osteoarthritis. It can also make you less likely to exercise, further increasing symptoms. Fat constantly releases proteins that cause inflammation in the body. For all of these reasons, it is advisable to lose weight prior to surgery if you are overweight. Your orthopaedic surgeon can offer advice.
Finally, getting enough sleep is also important for people undergoing joint replacement surgery as our bodies trigger the release of hormones while we are sleeping that promote tissue growth, helping wounds to heal faster. If we are not getting enough sleep, our immune system can become compromised and less effective at fighting infection. There are things you can do to improve the quality of sleep you are getting, particularly if pain and discomfort makes it hard to sleep. Talk to your orthopaedic surgeon about the best position for sleeping and consider reading up on good sleep hygiene, which includes avoiding alcohol and caffeine and developing an effective wind-down routine in the evening.
If you are scheduled to undergo joint replacement surgery, the good news is that this is a routine procedure that generally produces reliable and good outcomes and helps many people enjoy an active quality of life. If you are concerned about the timing of your surgery or have any questions that are not answered here, contact us and we will be happy to advise you.
Carrothers Orthopaedics Consultations
Carrothers Orthopaedics is still here for our patients during this time. Whilst treatment options have been restricted in previous months, we are still providing online consultations via Zoom or telephone, as well as face to face as the condition necessitates.
We are here for you to talk through your symptoms, provide diagnosis with imaging modalities and discuss the full range of treatments available to you.
If you are experiencing new musculoskeletal symptoms or require support or advice about an existing condition please contact us.