The following list of questions from OrthoInfo.com can help you as a Social Security Disability claimant to talk to your surgeon about total joint replacement. If you are considering total joint replacement, print out this article and bring it with you to your next appointment.
1. What are the most frequent complications of surgery?
It is important to know up front what kinds of complications you are most likely to experience after your total joint replacement surgery. It's also good to know the less likely, but more serious complications - since often, they can be minimized if they are caught right away.
2. How long will I be in the hospital?
How long is an average hospital stay for people who undergo the same surgery as you? How long could it be with complications?
3. What are the rates for complications versus a good outcome?
How often do patients experience complications from surgery? How often are there no complications?
4. What risks do I face if I do not have surgery?
What could happen if you do not have total joint surgery?
5. How much pain should I expect? How will it be managed?
You should be aware of how much pain is normal and what kind of medication you will have in the hospital and at home. If there are types of painkillers you shouldn't take, discuss alternatives with your surgeon.
6. How long will my new joint last?
Before going through with surgery, learn how long you can expect to use your new joint before another surgery will be necessary. Also find out how you should treat your new joint so that it will last longer.
7. What are the pros and cons of minimally invasive surgery?
Minimally invasive surgery, or mini-incision surgery, uses smaller incisions and less cutting of tissue around the joint. It is not recommended for everyone. Rates of complications may be higher. You should discuss the pros and cons with your surgeon and ask for his recommendation.
8. What will I be able to do after my total joint replacement?
It is important to have a realistic expectation of what you will be able to do after your joint is replaced. Ask your doctor what you can expect from your new joint.
9. Will I need to go to therapy?
Physical therapy is often necessary for patients to enjoy the full benefits of total joint replacement. Complications may arise if therapy is not done. Make sure you know what the time commitment will be for physical therapy before you choose to have surgery. And remember that if you choose not to follow your doctor's advice, you may render yourself ineligible for Social Security Disability benefits when your new joint does not work as it should.
10. Will I be able to stay in touch with you after the surgery?
You may experience a problem or have questions after your surgery. Ask your surgeon beforehand how you can reach him if you need help, information, or advice.
Joni Beth Bailey is a Southern Illinois Social Security Disability representative.