Procrastination is a fact of life for many of us. But when it comes to our health, it can have serious consequences. To avoid any health-related consequences to your joints, Fall and the end of the year can be a great time to undergo a joint preservation procedure. The heat and humidity that exacerbates joint pain has waned, kids and college students are back in school and most importantly, there can be financial benefits to scheduling your surgery in the last few months of the year. Not to mention, delaying elective surgeries, like joint preservation or replacement procedures, can pose a threat to overall health and quality of life. Before you wait any longer, consider the following:
The joints of osteoarthritis sufferers will continue to degenerate: The negative consequences of wear and tear on joint cartilage escalate with time, leading to increased inflammation and degeneration. Sometimes joints can become deformed and significantly impact your quality of life if problems are not addressed. For example, patients with long-term severe knee arthritis may eventually become knock-kneed or bow-legged.
Painful joints can lead to a sedentary lifestyle: As pain increases one’s level of disability, exercise becomes less desirable. Lack of exercise can lead to weight gain which can increase your risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Joint pain affects a lot more than just the joints: Long-term chronic pain, which many joint sufferers experience, can negatively affect sleep, brain function, mental health, cardiovascular health, and sexual function. Chronic pain also can become increasingly complex as time goes on and become more difficult to treat.
Rehabilitation may be tougher and slower after surgery. Arthritis progresses the longer you wait for surgery and over time the muscles surrounding the joints become weak. If patients also avoid exercise, the muscles can further decline. Rehab after surgery may be more difficult and take longer due to loss of muscle strength if you wait to undergo a procedure.
COVID-19 Fears and Precautions
With the emergence of the Delta variant of COVID-19, some people are newly fearful of healthcare settings. In many cases, however, joint preservation procedures can be performed in outpatient surgery settings, reducing patients’ possible exposure to COVID-19. And with more than 18 months of experience under their belts, ambulatory surgery centers and hospitals have become adept at minimizing the risk of patient exposure to COVID-19 through infection control and other safety measures.
Other Factors that Affect Surgery Timing
A final note on surgery timing. As the end of the year nears, people often find themselves with money left in their Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) (Not all FSA deadlines are the same, but many end on December 31) and their annual insurance deductibles met. Preparing for joint surgery can be a wise use of your FSA funds, for things like over-the-counter pain medications and working with a nutritionist on a weight-loss plan. Getting into better shape before surgery can shorten your recovery time and the post-operative rehabilitation process. You can check your current FSA balance by calling your provider. Also, remember to keep tabs on your insurance deductible. Whether it has been met or not, can also affect how you time your surgery.
If you’re nervous about joint replacement surgery, remember that there are many joint preservation technologies available that enable surgeons to recreate the native shape of the joint, remove minimal bone, and increase range of motion. Unlike a traditional total joint replacement, Anika’s Joint Preservation Systems allow patients to resume full activity post-surgery and live an independent lifestyle. Use our Find A Doctor tool to speak with a surgeon who can help you determine if joint preservation is right for you.