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10 questions to ask prior to getting surgery

Seeing patients post-operatively is very common in our field of work. We are frequently asked during the first appointment “how many sessions will I need?” Or “How long until I can be back playing my sport?”

This is information the patient should be given prior to having the surgery so that they are fully informed of the complete process before going under the knife.

We’ve all been there... we think of all sorts of questions to ask the Doctor during the appointment and once there, completely forget and then the opportunity is gone. Writing down questions on a notepad or “notes” on your phone is a great way to make sure you have all your questions answered prior to making any big decisions regarding your health and treatment.

Prior to consenting to any surgery or treatment you should feel confident that you have all the information you require and are happy with the process that you are about to start. The following are the top 10 questions we recommend asking/knowing the answers to, prior to any surgery.

1) Why do I need the surgery? It’s important to understand the reason for surgery. Is it necessary to achieve the best possible outcome or could you achieve the same in the long run with a less invasive/conservative approach eg. Physiotherapy. Is there scientific research that backs surgery as a more superior treatment for that condition/injury? We recommend getting a second opinion from a reputable Doctor if you are told surgery is the best option.

2) When do I need to have the surgery - is it time sensitive? In many cases completing a course of “pre-habilitation” can be very beneficial and can produce more favorable outcomes than having the surgery immediately post injury. Pre-habilitation can ensure optimal strength and mobility prior to surgery which can speed up recovery time post-operatively. However some surgeries are time-sensitive and need to be completed quickly after the initial injury.

3) What are the risks to the surgery or potential complications? All surgeries come with some risks, however some more specific areas of interest could be joint range of motion - could it be impacted in the long run? Numbness or altered sensation over the surgical site? What is the “success rate” of that particular surgery for your problem?

4) How long does the surgery take? What anaesthesia will I require and will I be discharged the same day?

5) Am I able to drive after the surgery? If not how long until I can drive?

6) Am I able to continue my work, if not how long do I need to be off for?

(Maybe add here - Should I consider returning to work part-time or completing modified duties when I first return to work?)

7) What pain relief will I be given post operatively, if it's not enough is there anything I can do to help reduce the pain?

8) Are there any post operative precautions: Do’s and Dont’s? This is really important as surgeons often have different precautions post operatively depending on the exact procedure they have done. Ask for a print out of the post operative protocol which should have time periods and instructions on what you can and can’t do- this can also be beneficial to bring to your Physiotherapist (particularly if the physiotherapy is in a different clinic to the operation).

9) How long is the rehabilitation/recovery period before I am back doing the sport/activity that I want? This is really important and often overlooked. Some post operative rehabilitation periods can take months to a year and others are just a few weeks, so it is critical that you know the estimated time frame for recovery before having the operation.

10) Will I require physiotherapy post operatively and when should I start? Some operations require intense physiotherapy to achieve optimal function and some may require a bit of advice and a home exercise programme. Make sure you know which one you are to plan your post operative period accordingly.

Should you have any questions regarding the post operative period and Physiotherapy please give one of our Physiotherapists a call at Perfect Balance and we would be happy to discuss it with you.

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