Waiting for a joint replacement

The Versus Arthritis charity has called for more support for those awaiting joint replacements. Often left in constant pain, patients need more physical and emotional support while they wait, according to the charity.

The ‘Impossible to Ignore’ campaign from Versus Arthritis, includes a six-point support package for patients. This provides invaluable help and support for those currently facing a long wait for their surgery. Here, we will look at what the new support package includes and what patients can do to look after themselves while awaiting a joint replacement procedure.

Understanding the new support package

Due to the backlogs that have developed during the pandemic, waiting times for planned surgeries are at record levels. In a Versus Arthritis poll of 900 people awaiting surgery, more than three-quarters (79%) said they felt their physical health had deteriorated.

According to the study, roughly 89% (nine out of ten) reported their pain had increased, 90% reported reduced mobility, 79% reported a loss of independence, and 72% reported deteriorating mental health.

The new six-point support package recommended by Versus Arthritis covers the following:

  1. Patients must be adequately informed about the date of their surgery, as well as the services and care they can receive in the meantime.
  2. Patients with arthritis will receive personalised self-management support for managing their pain until surgery is available.
  3. A primary care network (or a group of GP practices working closely with other primary and community care workers), should actively promote physical activity programmes for people with arthritis, enabling them to stay active and prepare for surgery.
  4. All people with arthritis should have access to mental health support to help them manage their pain, depression, and anxiety.
  5. Providing patients with arthritis who are in work, or who are seeking work, with information about financial assistance and advice.
  6. A COVID-19 recovery plan that is tailored to the specific needs of individuals with arthritis.

The Royal College of Surgeons has also recommended specialist hubs to be set up to deal with the extensive backlogs.

Preparing for joint replacement surgery

If you are currently waiting for your joint replacement procedure, there are things you can do in the run-up, whether you are opting for a private, speedier solution or sitting on a NHS waiting list.

To manage your pain and ease mobility, it is imperative you keep moving. There are resources online you can use to exercise safely while you wait for the surgery. Many physiotherapists are also offering online support to patients.

You can also seek help with your mental health through charities such as MIND. They too have a lot of online resources you can take advantage of. Of course, you can also ask the advice of your surgeon.

Waiting for a joint replacement can be painful and frustrating. To prevent the issue from worsening, it is important to look after yourself and keep moving. Staying as healthy as possible will also help.