What Is Orthopedic Surgery and When Would I Need to Consider It?

Orthopedic x-rays

If you have recently been diagnosed with an orthopedic injury or illness, you are not alone. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), roughly one in two Americans suffers from a musculoskeletal condition that is painful and debilitating. While some of these individuals are able to make long-term progress with the help of medication and rehabilitation, others fail to experience any relief from their symptoms through medication or exercise. In these treatment-resistant cases, orthopedic surgery is often recommended as a way to address the root cause of a patient’s pain and discomfort. Below is a look at the benefits of orthopedic surgery and the best way to determine whether it could be a safe and helpful option for you.

About Orthopedic Surgery

Orthopedic surgery is a type of surgery that focuses on repairing bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments. It can be performed on many regions of the body, but is most commonly performed on the hip, knee, hands, feet, and spine. Orthopedic surgery is typically performed in a hospital or ambulatory surgery center by a trained and licensed medical doctor who has completed a four to five year orthopedic residency in a hospital. Surgery is often performed to treat injuries, degenerative health problems, trauma, or a congenital condition.

What to Expect with Orthopedic Surgery

Before your surgery, you will receive some important instructions to follow to help minimize any complications or delays during your operation. For example, you will likely be advised to refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking during the 24-hour period before your surgery. Be sure to follow these instructions carefully and plan to arrive at the hospital well in advance of your scheduled surgery.

Pre-Op and Surgery

When you arrive for your surgery, you can expect to complete some initial paperwork and then will be taken to a pre-operation (“pre-op”) room and asked to change into a gown for your surgery. Your vital signs will be checked and you will be taken to the operating room shortly thereafter. An anesthetic agent will be administered and your surgeon will begin to operate. The length of your surgery will depend upon the type of operation you are having and the extent of your injury or condition, but most surgeries are completed within an hour or two.

Post-Op and Recovery

Orthopedic surgery patient with doctor and nurseAfter your surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area or post anesthesia care unit (PACU) where you will be monitored as you begin your recovery from surgery. The amount of time you remain under close observation will depend on your age, surgery type and doctor’s orders. In some cases, patients are able to go home in a few hours while others might be asked to remain overnight for further monitoring. In the rare cases in which complications arise, you might be admitted to the hospital as an inpatient until your medical team determines that you are ready to go home. Most restorative joint procedures require a hospital stay of one to three days. Patients will then receive outpatient physical therapy.

Life After Orthopedic Surgery

Most people experience a significant reduction in pain and discomfort once they have completed the healing process. For example, the AAOS reports that 90 percent of people who have a total knee replacement report a dramatic reduction in pain as well as the ability to complete daily tasks with greater ease. In order to achieve the best results, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations and complete any physical therapy or rehabilitation exercises that are arranged when you are discharged.

When It Is a Good Option

Orthopedic surgery is typically recommended if you have anorthopedic emergency or after other less invasive treatments have failed to sufficiently treat your pain and discomfort. Surgery is often a good option if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have received a comprehensive evaluation by an orthopedic doctor
  • You are diagnosed with an orthopedic injury or disease
  • You have tried nonsurgical treatments such as medications, exercise, and rehabilitative therapies to no avail
  • You are deemed to be a good candidate for orthopedic surgery

Seeking Orthopedic Surgery

Woman at orthopedic consultationOrthopedic surgery can dramatically improve the quality of life for a person suffering from orthopedic injury or disease. If you have been diagnosed with an orthopedic condition or suspect that you may have one, make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. Contact us at West Suburban Medical Center to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced orthopedic specialists.

During your consultation, the specialist will talk to you about your symptoms and review your X-rays to determine whether you are a good candidate for orthopedic surgery. He or she will listen to your questions and concerns and determine the best course of action to treat your condition. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) offers patients a helpful checklist for patients to ensure that you provide relevant information about your problems. The list includes the following points:

  • A summary of the problem: The surgeon will want to know when your problem started and how you have tried to treat the symptoms.
  • Your medical history: Note any past and current medical diagnoses that have affected your well-being. Also list any surgeries you have had.
  • Your family history: Tell your surgeon about health problems affecting family members – especially those related to surgery or anesthesia.
  • Current medications: Bring a list of the medications you are taking, including any supplements and over-the-counter medications.
  • Your allergies: Make sure the surgeon is aware of any allergies you have, including those related to food, medications, or the environment.
  • X-Rays and medical records: Be sure that the surgeon has copies of your X-rays, CT scan results, and other test results.
  • Questions and concerns: Your consultation provides a good opportunity to share your questions, concerns, and surgery-related goals.

If orthopedic surgery appears to be the best treatment option for you, the orthopedic specialists at West Suburban Medical Center will coordinate with you to discuss potential dates for your surgery. We are ready to help you move closer to pain-free living.