Getting Ready for Surgery? Questions to Ask Your Knee Surgeon
Conversations with New Knee Patients
I speak with five or more post-surgery knee patients every day. To be more specific I speak with post-surgery knee patients whose knee surgery recovery is in trouble. These knee surgery patients’ situations are different, each patient with a specific set of challenges. However, the one common theme is a lack of knowledge about what can go wrong in recovery. It seems as if the class at the hospital can paint a picture of quick and rosy stays at the hospital. Fast and easy in-home rehab. And problem free therapy in an outpatient clinic. For the ‘troubled knees’ there is a lot of frustration, disappointment, anguish and anger.
So now let’s talk about you. Do you have a knee surgery upcoming? If so you have the opportunity to walk into this process better informed and better prepared if you just ask the right questions. To be honest I don’t care how impressive your surgeon is. How esteemed is his schooling. And how many of your friends told you to pick one particular surgeon. This is your knee and recovery problems come from even the most recognized surgeons. I have first hand experience with patients from the biggest name surgeons out there. Be confident and persistent and inquisitive… make sure you get all your questions answered.
Look in the Mirror
One more thing. It is important that you look in the mirror and ask yourself some questions as well. This will help your surgeon provide you with the best advice. For instance. What are your goals? What do you want to be able to do after surgery? Are you in need of getting back to work quickly? Are competitive sports on your list of activities after surgery or is this really just about relieving the pain? The more you know about yourself the better you and your surgeon will do together. Your surgeon will play an important role in the next 3-6 months of your life. You’d better feel good about this new partnership.
So let’s get to work. ‘Questions to Ask Your Knee Surgeon’ (and even the surgeon’s staff) presented below.
Early Exploratory Questions to Ask Your Knee Surgeon
What type of knee surgery would be best for me?
What results should I expect from this surgery? Please explain what are the usual outcomes for someone in my situation?
Explain possible complications and how likely they are.
Can I do anything to increase the odds of a successful surgery?
Will I be in a lot of pain after surgery? What can be done to relieve it?
Do I need to stop taking my medications before surgery?
How long will partial and full recovery take?
How should I prepare for being at home?
Can I speak to two or three of your former patients about their experiences with you?
Should I Actually Have the Surgery?
Is there any harm in waiting?
Am I too young or too old for knee replacement?
What else can be done for knee arthritis besides surgery?
What is minimally invasive knee replacement surgery?
Which type of replacement would benefit me?
How do I find out if my insurance will pay for knee replacement surgery?
Does insurance cover all of the costs or just some?
Does it make a difference which hospital I go to?
Should I learn to use crutches or a walker before I have the surgery?
Do I need to lose weight before surgery?
What is the right BMI (body mass index) for me to achieve before surgery?
Minimizing the Risks
Where can I get help quitting cigarettes or not drinking alcohol, if I need to?
How much help will I need when I come home? Will I be able to get out of bed?
How can I make my home safer for me?
What changes should I make at home so it is easier to get around and do things?
How can I make it easier for myself in the bathroom and shower?
What type of supplies will I need when I get home?
Do I need to rearrange my home?
What should I do if there are steps that go to my bedroom or bathroom?
Are there exercises I should do to make my muscles stronger?
What can I do before surgery to make the risks lower?
For which of my medical problems (such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure) do I need to see my doctor?
Leading up to the Surgery Date
Do I need to stop taking any medicines before my surgery?
Aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or other arthritis drugs?
Vitamins, minerals, herbs, and supplements?
Other prescription drugs that my other doctors may have given me?
What should I do the night before my surgery?
When do I need to stop eating or drinking?
What medicines should I take the day of surgery?
When do I need to be at the hospital?
What should I bring with me to the hospital?
Do I need to use a special soap when I bathe or shower?
Tell Me About the Surgery
Will I need a blood transfusion during or after the surgery? Are there ways of saving my own blood before the surgery so it can be used during the surgery?
What is the risk of infection from surgery?
What will the surgery be like?
How long will the surgery last?
What type of anesthesia will be used? Are there choices to consider?
Will I be in a lot of pain after surgery? What will be done to relieve the pain?
What will my stay in the hospital be like?
How soon will I be getting up and moving around?
Will I have physical therapy in the hospital?
What other types of treatment or therapy will I have at the hospital?
How long will I stay in the hospital?
When will I go home after surgery?
Will I be able to walk when I leave the hospital? Will I be able to go home after being in the hospital, or will I need to go to a rehabilitation facility to recover more?
How Do I Maximize My Rehab?
What will I be expected to do as part of recovery?
Should I expect to be sore after surgery?
What is your opinion of the CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine for my range of motion?
Note: think of this as a litmus test for your surgeon. Be careful If he or she recommends the CPM amidst the overwhelming negative data over the past 45 years This tells you a lot about how current your surgeon is.
Do you believe a patient needs to be in pain to do well in rehab?
How long before I can ride a stationary bike (at least 110º range of motion)
How long before I am as strong as I was before surgery?
What is your opinion of the X10 Knee Recovery System™ for post-surgery rehab?
Do you recommend pre-hab work for strength and range of motion before my surgery?
You cannot know everything. Sometimes life just delivers a surprise or two. And I do not think this list is exhaustive. So if you have more questions to ask your knee surgeon to add to this list please contribute a comment. And I will add the good ones to the list. The more you know the better your decisions will be as you make a knee surgery a big success in your life.
To learn how to best prepare for your upcoming knee surgery click here.
The X10 Meta-Blog
We call it a “Meta-Blog” because we step back and give you a broad perspective on all aspects of knee health, surgery and recovery.
In this one-of-a-kind blog we gather together great thinkers, doers, writers related to Knee Surgery, Recovery, Preparation, Care, Success and Failure. Meet physical therapists, coaches, surgeons, patients, and as many smart people as we can gather to create useful articles for you. Whether you have a surgery upcoming, in the rear-view mirror, or just want to take care of your knees to avoid surgery, you should find some value here. Executive Editor: PJ Ewing (firstname.lastname@example.org)