People who are suffering from severe pain related to an injury or age-related condition often consult with an orthopedic surgeon to find relief. Whether they are exploring spine surgery or knee replacements, a surgical procedure may represent the best chance at being able to overcome debilitating pain and get back to a healthy and active lifestyle. However, the possibility of undergoing surgery can also be a source of anxiety for some, which is why educating yourself as a patient can go a long way toward ensuring that you make a decision that is best for your long-term wellness.
To help, we’re sharing five questions that any patient should ask a prospective orthopedic surgeon when seeing him or her for a consultation. Above all else, always trust your instincts. Credentials and experience are extremely important, but so are the smaller and more personal aspects, such as eye contact or the way they explain a condition or procedure. Don’t hesitate to reach out at any time if you’d like to learn more about Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America (OJRCA) and how we can help.
1. What is Your Sub-Specialty?
Orthopedic surgeons specialize in the surgical treatment of musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. This covers a wide array of orthopedic surgeries designed to treat everything from traumatic injuries to osteoarthritis. Most orthopedic surgeons have a subspecialty that they devote their time and study to treating.
Common subspecialties include:
- Joint replacement
- Spine surgeries
- Pediatric orthopedics
- Trauma surgery
- Foot and ankle
A surgeon can sub-specialize in multiple areas, or even be a generalist. As a rule, patients should look for an orthopedic surgeon who sub-specializes in the area of treatment that you require. For example, patients exploring knee replacements should ask prospective surgeons if they specialize in joint replacement and whether their condition is one they commonly treat.
2. How Long Have You Been Performing Orthopedic Surgeries?
There is no substitute for experience in orthopedic surgeries. If you have found an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the condition or injury you are dealing with, the next question you should ask is how long he or she has been practicing for. While you do want to ensure that your orthopedic surgeon is on top of the latest practices and innovations in the field, years of experience are also important.
A highly experienced surgeon who has performed many orthopedic surgeries has encountered a wider array of situations and is less likely to encounter a circumstance that hasn’t been encountered before. If a prospective surgeon is recommending a specific procedure, don’t be afraid to ask how many times he or she has performed it and what the typical recovery times and outcomes are.
3. Are You Board Certified?
Another key area to ask about or research is an orthopedic surgeons list of credentials. For example, aside from receiving a medical degree and completing surgical residencies and fellowships, patients should look for a surgeon who has been certified by a leading accreditation body in their field.
For orthopedic surgeons, this organization is the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS). Becoming board certified is a voluntary process, but it demonstrates commitment to the highest quality of care in. Board certification sets an orthopedic surgeon apart as a highly recognized specialist in the eyes of patients, hospitals, employers and insurers, according to the ABOS. Becoming board certified consists of a thorough evaluation, including a computer-based and oral examination as well as an intensive review of the surgeon’s case history.
After passing the board review, the surgeon will then be certified for a 10 year period before requiring renewal.
4. Is Surgery My Only Treatment Option?
It’s important to understand that most orthopedic surgeries are elective and are typically seen as a treatment of last resort. This is especially true of joint replacements, such as knee replacements or hip replacements, that are used to treat chronic pain and limited mobility related to joint damage. Since the goal is to improve quality of life, you should ask your orthopedic surgeon and any other physician you encounter if conservative treatments and lifestyle changes have been thoroughly explored.
Physical therapy, therapeutic injections and other nonsurgical treatments allow many patients to experience lasting relief, especially when combined with lifestyle changes like weight management, eating a healthy diet, improving posture and getting regular exercise. However, if weeks or months of conservative treatment has not offered the relief necessary for a good quality of life, orthopedic surgeries may offer the best chance of a positive treatment outcome.
5. Do You Perform Outpatient Procedures?
Many patients associate orthopedic surgeries such as joint replacements with a lengthy hospital stay and a long, difficult recovery period. Fortunately, with new advancements in the field of orthopedics, and the continued development of surgical technology and treatment protocols, in the right experienced hands, most joint replacements can be performed on an outpatient basis.
This means that after undergoing the procedure in an ambulatory surgery center, patients can return home after a few short hours of recovery, instead of staying overnight in the hospital. Since these procedures generally take a less invasive approach, they can also be associated with a shorter and less painful recovery.
Always ask your orthopedic surgeon about the possibility of an outpatient procedure and if there are any medical conditions that could require hospitalization for monitoring. Even if inpatient surgery is needed, orthopedic surgeons who specialize in outpatient procedures can still utilize techniques and protocols that help speed recovery and healing.
OJRCA has the Orthopedic Surgery Experience You Deserve
For over two decades, board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Philip Clifford has been helping patients find the lasting relief they deserve. Specializing in outpatient knee replacements and hip replacements that take advantage of state-of-the-art technology, OJRCA and Dr. Clifford specialize in helping patients find lasting relief, improved function while prioritizing patient-centered care. Patients who come to us can be assured that we will help explore all treatment options to ensure a personalized care plan that meets your unique patient goals.
To learn more, contact us online today or call us at (813) 492-4607.