Over the next few months life should slowly begin to get back to normal as the UK emerges from lockdown. There are many reasons to feel optimistic but, if you have been waiting for orthopaedic treatment during the pandemic, being able to get back on track with your treatment is probably paramount.
We are aware that many patients have been experiencing worsening pain and a loss of mobility, particularly those with degenerative conditions such as arthritis. Here are some things to be aware of in the coming months:
Discuss the next stage of treatment
It is likely your orthopaedic consultant will contact you to discuss the next stage of your treatment. Unfortunately, due to the backlog of patients to treat there may be further long delays.
However, whether you are a private or an NHS patient, the good news is that there are lifestyle changes that you can make to relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life while you are waiting for medical treatment. These include making changes to your diet which can help to reduce inflammation, losing weight and taking exercise to improve flexibility and lubrication in damaged joints. Take a look at our blog Fast Facts About Arthritis for further information about what you can do to support yourself.
Although it may be some time before you can undergo surgery, there may be treatments you could have in the meantime to help ease the symptoms while you wait. Injections of corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid are used to treat joints that are painful and swollen due to arthritis or injury. In the lower limb they are most commonly given in the hip, knee or ankle. These injections provide shorter-term relief from pain (normally lasting a few months to a year or so) and can relieve swelling and make movement easier. Talk to your consultant to find out if this treatment might be suitable for you.
Vaccination and treatments
One of the questions we are being asked most frequently by our patients right now is whether they can have orthopaedic treatment alongside the Covid-19 vaccination. We have written a blog about this to answer people’s questions (Guidance on Covid-19 Vaccines and the Timing of Orthopaedic Treatment). In essence, The British Orthopaedic Association recommends waiting at least seven days after having the vaccine before undergoing elective surgery and this applies to both doses. The reason is to ensure that any symptoms that arise from the vaccine are not confused with post-surgical complications such as infections which would require urgent treatment.
There are also considerations about the timing of any corticosteroid injections. While it is most likely safe to have these alongside the Covid-19 vaccine, the body may not produce such a good response and hence immunity to the vaccine, as it would do without the steroid injection. For this reason it is advised to leave 2 weeks interval between vaccine and steroid injection. There is more information about this in the blog about vaccines and the timing of orthopaedic treatment.
It is understandable that people who have waited many months longer than normal are eager to begin treatment as soon as possible and, as orthopaedic surgeons, we are also keen to help our patients get their treatment and their lives back on track. If you would like to discuss your treatment options contact us and we will be happy to advise you.
Talk to an orthopaedic consultant | Cambridge
Please be reassured that types of orthopaedic treatment are now being routinely offered to patients and having the vaccine does not mean that your treatment won’t go ahead. However, in some circumstances it may be advisable to delay it by a couple of weeks to ensure your body responds in the optimum way to the vaccine. If in doubt, please talk to your orthopaedic consultant or contact us for more guidance.
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For your convenience, we offer appointments at both Nuffield Hospital Cambridge and Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital.