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When Should You Consider Orthopedic Surgery?

When Should You Consider Orthopedic Surgery?

orthopedic surgery

There are many reasons that you may think you are in need of orthopedic surgery. Whether you have had a recent injury, you have recurring pain due to your age or even a poor diet, there are so many aspects that may lead to a visit with an orthopedic surgeon. Maybe you have even had a long history with your orthopedic health, and this is your very last option. This is a very common story. 

Orthopedic surgery is common but usually seen as the last resort – a final option after other precautions and steps have been taken, called “conservative care” in healthcare. Whether you’re new to the orthopedic world or you’ve been through it all, here are the steps you should take when considering orthopedic surgery. When should you consider orthopedic surgery? Here’s what to do.

Preventing Orthopedic Surgery

If you are in the beginning stages of your joint pain, there are some steps that you can take in order to prevent further pain and surgery itself. We recommend trying some lifestyle changes first that may help your body in the long run. These changes might help you prevent surgery and mitigate pain. 

First of all, you’ll want to start with a joint-friendly diet. Some foods that have been recommended to promote healthy joints are cherries, red peppers, salmon, oatmeal, walnuts and kale. Choosing foods that have high levels of vitamin C, anthocyanins, calcium and vitamin D, can help with inflammation, and prevent aches and pains. Beyond the food you eat, you can also incorporate supplements into your diet. In several studies, it has been found that supplements do promote joint health and can prevent long-term pain. Some of the most recommended supplements are glucosamine, chondroitin, turmeric and ginger. These supplements can help promote healthy joints and can prevent pain. Many also find that cutting back on sugar and other highly inflammatory foods makes a difference in how their joints feel. 

Next, there are some exercises and stretches recommended for your joint health. It’s been found that daily exercise can help fight against forms of arthritis and many other conditions that lead to joint pain or discomfort. We recommend walking, yoga, swimming, cycling and stretching. While some may not think stretching is a form of exercise, it is actually super integral for your joint health. After a workout, or even on its own, stretching can help many joints in your body. These common exercises are good for your joints and can be a fun way to get your body moving. 

Conservative Care

Before surgery, your orthopedic doctor will walk you through a care plan that best suits your body and its needs. As mentioned, surgery is usually seen as the last resort and is only considered when other options and treatments have been exhausted. Because of this, there is a common protocol which doctors will lead patients through. Here are the most common options that can be taken before you decide on orthopedic surgery:

  • RICE: The RICE method is recommended for all kinds of injuries, especially sports-related injuries. RICE stands for: rest, ice, compression and elevation. This means that your doctor will expect you to halt your usual physical activity, ask you to ice your affected area often, compress your affected area with the use of athletic wrap or surgical tape, and elevate your affected area in order to reduce swelling. This is usually the very first step in recovery, and if it doesn’t do the trick, your doctor will move you on to the next step.
  • Protection of the tendon: Depending on the severity and location of your injury, your doctor may recommend that you take specific efforts in order to protect your tendon or joint for several weeks. This may be a change in footwear, a change in diet or a change in exercise. 
  • Medication: Either in combination with another treatment or on its own, your doctor may prescribe you some pain medication. This typically is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.
  • Physical therapy: If exercises are necessary but your condition is severe, physical therapy may be the best route for you. At physical therapy, a professional can walk you through the best stretches and movements for your body and your specific condition’s severity.
  • Steroid Injections: ADD

Deciding on Orthopedic Surgery

Even after all the preventative steps we’ve listed above, and conservative care has been done, sometimes surgery is still necessary. When you set up your initial consultation with your orthopedic doctor, they will walk you through an action plan, which will be catered to your body and your medical background. If there are treatment options (such as conservative care) that can be taken before surgery, they will be suggested and taken accordingly. Surgery is seen as a last resort by orthopedic doctors, but sometimes it is necessary to aid your pain and problems. When that is the case, they will make sure you are aware of the risks and complications that come with surgery. Here are the most common orthopedic surgeries.

Most Common Orthopedic Surgeries

Depending on the area of your joint pain, your past medical history and any injuries you may have, there are many different orthopedic treatments and surgeries done at Integrated Orthopedics, including: 

  • Meniscal Surgery (such as debridement and repair)
  • Chondroplasty Surgery
  • Ligament Surgery
  • Cartilage Restoration Procedures
  • Total/Patrial Knee Replacement
  • Total Hip Replacement
  • Arthritis Treatment & Rehab
  • Elbow surgery
  • Foot & Ankle Surgeries (including Achilles repair surgery, loose body removal, etc.)
  • Fracture Care Surgeries
  • General Orthopedic Surgeries (including ligament surgery, shoulder repairs, bone treatments, etc.)
  • Shoulder surgeries (including ​​rotator cuff repair, total shoulder replacement, etc)
  • Pain Procedures including cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, sacrococcygeal and suprascapular surgeries)
  • Joint Injections
  • Bursa Injections

Risks & Recovery

Every surgery comes with risks, whether they are uncommon or not. Here are just a few of the most common risks related to orthopedic surgeries. 

  • Inherent risks associated with all surgeries like anesthesia risks, infection, damage to nerves and blood vessels, and bleeding or blood clots.
  • Long term joint stiffness
  • Long term joint weakness
  • Arthritis caused by surgery

In terms of recovery, here are some general guidelines to follow after surgery. Though, every surgery is different, and your doctor will have specific directions for you to follow. 

Here are some recovery steps that the doctor may recommend after your surgery:

  • Time off from work, paired with bed rest and elevation of your hot spot.
  • Physical therapy to help bring the joint back to functionality.
  • Medication to help alleviate the pain caused by the surgery itself and its effects.
  • Change in lifestyle or activity, based on ways in which the surgery will impact your body moving forward.

Taking steps toward orthopedic surgery can be scary and we understand that you will have questions and concerns. Depending on the circumstances of your body’s needs, surgery may not even be necessary. If you are concerned about your joint health and its next steps, we recommend scheduling an appointment with Integrated Orthopedics today. Your orthopedic doctor will take all of the steps to promise you preventative care and a treatment plan that will suit you well.


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