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The 5 Most Important Questions to Ask Your Orthopedic Surgeon

The 5 Most Important Questions to Ask Your Orthopedic Surgeon

Most patients prefer to receive treatment from doctors who are well qualified and have had several years of experience in their field of expertise. They would also like all their options clearly explained. No one would like to undergo a total joint replacement only to find out later that a partial joint replacement would have worked just as well. Obviously, it’s important to get all the information up front, so let’s take a look at 5 important questions to ask your orthopedic surgeon before going ahead with surgery:

What are the options available to me?

All options must be clearly explained to you with the pros and cons of each. This includes what would happen if you left the condition untreated. In some cases, your doctor may suggest delaying treatment while in other cases your chances of making a complete recovery are better if you have the surgery as soon as possible. If your surgeon suggests a surgical procedure as the best option for you, make sure you understand why this is so.

How many surgeries have you performed of this type?

The greater the number of surgeries performed, the greater the skill level and proficiency of your surgeon in treating various situations that may arise during the operation.

What are the risks and complications associated with the surgery?

Your surgeon will explain the risks and complications involved in detail and you will also have to sign informed consent prior to undergoing the procedure. Feel free to clarify any doubts you have concerning the surgical risks prior to proceeding with the surgery. Your surgeon will be more than happy to put you at ease prior to the surgery.

What will the recovery process be like?

It is important to know how soon you can return to your activities of daily living so that you can apply for a leave of absence from work and take all the precautions necessary. Usually with hip and knee replacements, you will have to rely on crutches or a walker for a few weeks and then gradually transition to a cane. Within 6 to 8 weeks, you should be able to walk unassisted with minimal or no pain.

How will my life change after the procedure in terms of limitations of activity?

Following a knee or hip replacement, more than 95% of patients experience improvement in function compared to before the surgery. There is also a significant decrease in pain. You will still need to check with your surgeon about the things you can and cannot do. Typically, high impact activity such as running and jumping is to be avoided, but you will be unlimited in terms of walking, gardening, and other leisure activities that are not too strenuous.

Erik N. Zeegen, M.D., a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon, is one of Southern California’s leading joint replacement surgeons. His practice is focused on hip and knee replacement surgery, including revising hip and knee replacements that have failed.