A new study found patients who feel anxious or depressed before joint replacement surgery could experience adverse outcomes. It is important to discuss your health with your doctor before the procedure so you can have a successful recovery.
What is Total Joint Replacement?
Total joint replacement, also known as total joint arthroplasty (TJA), is a surgical procedure in which parts of a damaged joint or arthritic joint are removed and replaced with a plastic, metal or ceramic device called a prosthesis.
Total joint arthroplasty is one of the most common, cost-effective and successful surgeries in medicine today. There are more than one million total joint replacement procedures performed in the United States every year, and the number is expected to increase to four million in 2030.
Depression, Anxiety and Pain Anticipation Predict Outcomes
According to an online article published in October in the Journal of Pain, even mild anxiety, depression and pain anticipation can influence whether total joint replacement patients experience pain relief after surgery.
Nils Georg Niederstrasser, Ph.D., from the University of Portsmouth, U.K., and Stephanie Cook, Ph.D., from De Montfort University in Leicester, U.K., examined 26 studies that analyzed the effect of preoperative psychological predictors on knee and hip replacements that did not require revision surgery.
Dr. Niederstrasser and Dr. Cook found evidence that depression and anxiety affected postoperative pain intensity and joint function, and that pain anticipation affected postoperative pain intensity (Medical Xpress).
Get the Best Results from Your Total Joint Replacement
Even though there are no studies to support the effects of a positive mindset on total joint replacement outcomes, there is strong evidence that negative thoughts and feelings are detrimental.
There are certain health issues that can make you more prone to complications during surgery. Your doctor and surgeon can help create a plan to reduce your modifiable risk factors, or risk factors that you can change.
Modifiable risk factors include:
- Body weight—your doctor may recommend you lose weight if you are overweight or obese
- Smoking—quitting smoking is important to optimize surgical results
- Blood sugar—diabetics or pre-diabetics should get blood sugar levels under control before surgery
Some risk factors are non-modifiable, but your surgical team will address those issues in your treatment and recovery plan (American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons). Some examples are:
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
Getting Healthy Before Surgery
Taking active steps toward a healthier lifestyle can help boost your optimism about your upcoming joint replacement surgery. Eating a balanced diet, exercising daily and getting plenty of rest are essential to mentally and physically prepare you for surgery.
It is also important to assemble a network of social support of family and friends to assist you to recover. Consider asking your loved ones to:
- Help you create a comfortable space on the first floor of your home where you can recover
- Drive you to and from the surgery
- Pick up prescription medication
- Do grocery shopping and prepare some easy meals. You may also consider preparing and freezing some meals before surgery.
- Visit you or call you occasionally to check on you and boost your spirits
Schedule a Total Joint Arthroplasty Consultation
Even though you cannot eliminate all risk factors, you can take proactive steps toward optimum health, which will facilitate your recovery. Joint replacement can help you live a fuller and longer life. Call your orthopedic surgeon to ask if you are a candidate for total joint replacement. Some careful planning can help you stay positive and encouraged to prepare for the surgery and the recovery.