Having a conversation with your doctor can help you decide

Talking with an orthopedic surgeon will help patients decide when the time is right.

Farmers value independence. It’s one of the benefits of the job. But it’s hard to stay healthy and active with a bad hip, shoulder or knee.

“You can’t afford to let joint pain hold you back on the farm,” said Lake Regional Orthopedic Surgeon Jeffrey Mutchler, D.O. “The good news is, you don’t have to grin and bear it. Total joint replacement is a safe, effective treatment that renews confidence and restores independence.”

Like any big decision, you’ll want to get all the facts first, Dr. Mutchler added.

“It is major surgery, and you want to learn as much as possible to ensure you are ready,” he said. “Talking with an orthopedic surgeon will help you know if it’s the right time for you.”

Here are five signs it’s time to have that talk.

1. Pain is ruling your life. When joint pain makes it hard to sleep or forces you to change your daily routine, that’s a sign your current coping tactics aren’t enough.

2. You’ve already tried other treatments. “Nonsurgical treatments, such as physical therapy and injections, might bring enough relief to make surgery unnecessary, or at least delay it,” Dr. Mutchler said. “But if you’ve tried other treatments and they no longer work, or you’re starting to deal with unwanted side effects, it makes sense to look at surgery.” 

3. You are losing independence. It’s one thing to give up a once-in-a-while game of basketball. It’s another to find yourself unable to climb into a truck or put on socks. Joint replacement is important for getting people back to their normal daily activities. 

4. You are ready to take on surgery and recovery. You must commit to follow through on doctor’s orders for exercise and rehabilitation. “Joint replacement is not an instant fix,” Dr. Mutchler said. “Success depends on you putting in the time and effort to get strong.” Committing to the full process is so important that Lake Regional offers Total Joint Camp, a two-hour class that walks through the process, from start to full function. Loved ones are welcome to attend and absorb as much information as possible.

Your orthopedic surgeon will review your medical history to ensure no health problem rules out surgery. You also might be encouraged to make some lifestyle changes – for example, quitting smoking – to be as healthy as possible for the procedure and recovery.

5. You feel it’s time. Maybe you’ve heard that you have to be a certain age to be a candidate for joint replacement. Although age is a consideration, it’s no longer the deciding factor for most people. Instead, the focus is on symptoms and quality of life. Are you missing activities you enjoy? Are you feeling down because you can’t do what you want and need to do? Are you ready to commit to recovery? “Your orthopedic surgeon will help you weigh any age consideration with the potential gains in quality of life,” Dr. Mutchler said. “You will know if the time is right.”

Anita Harrison is the assistant manager for Lake Regional Public Relations. She can be reached at 573-302-2770 or by email at [email protected]


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