Surgeons most likely tell you that the success to surgery depends on the procedure they do and the recommendations they give you afterwards. But do they really give you adequate advice after the surgery, or are they off to do their next case? Were you prepared for the surgery, or was it totally different than what you expected?
The key to a good outcome with surgery is having a good relationship with your surgeon and his team. I believe that 50% of a surgical patient outcome depends on the surgeon’s technique, and the other 50% depends on the patient’s preparation and effort in rehabilitation.
First, you need to know that surgery is your best option. Often a good trial of nonsurgical management better prepares you for surgery, as well as convinces you and your surgeon that it is your only option. Most importantly, during this time you may get better, and be able to avoid surgery. Next, once the decision for surgery is made, the patient needs to be optimized for this major event. In other words - all of your medical conditions need assessed to be sure you are as healthy as possible prior to surgery. Deconditioning or weakening of muscles occurs with aging, as well as in the surrounding tissues of the painful joint requiring surgery. These muscles must be preconditioned before surgery to obtain the best possible surgical outcome. At least one session with a physical therapist should be done to learn the safest and most effective way to do this.
The patient and at least one family member must become involved in preparing for the surgery. You can’t expect to just show up and have the hospital and nursing home take care of you. That is a recipe for disaster. The more you know in advance, the better you will do afterwards. Your surgeon should spend time explaining what you need to do to prepare for the surgery, and for the time period after the surgery. Be prepared to ask questions. Write them down. It is usually difficult to quickly think about questions during the office visit when surgery is decided. At Blanda Orthopedics, I require that my patients attend a free class at my office that I give, as well as attend a free class at the hospital. Common topics discussed at my class include dealing with post-operative pain through our TenPoint Pain Management Plan, activities after surgery, common mistakes patients make, and how to best prepare for the surgery. At that point, if patients still have questions or need extra preparation due to their medical and social situations, we set the patient up for an additional office visit prior to surgery to accomplish optimization. At Blanda Orthopedics and Physical Therapy, we are proud of our results and realize that at least 50% of that final outcome comes from us preparing our patients to do their part in their recovery.
Joseph Blanda, MD