All athletes get injured from time to time, and the majority of these injuries are minor and easy to recover from. Once you’ve hurt yourself badly, though, like tearing a ligament, the injury becomes a much more prominent part of your life. Throughout the recovery process, doctors may prescribe a variety of therapies to help you resume your daily activities.
Most of us review surgery as a last resort, something to be considered once all other options have been exhausted. But how can patients know when it’s time to go under the knife? If you’ve experienced a serious injury, ask yourself these 5 questions to help make this important decision.
1. Is the injury impacting your daily life?
Beyond your ability to run or cycle, is the injury causing pain during normal activities? If you’re finding it difficult to walk, stand for prolonged periods of time, or participate in light exercise, it may be time to choose a more permanent treatment. An orthopaedic surgeon can examine your injury and determine whether or not surgery would be the best course of action for improving your quality of life.
2. Is the injury getting progressively worse?
If an injury is not healing properly, you could put yourself at risk for even more damage. After rehabilitation, rest, and physical therapy, you should see a decrease in pain and an increase in mobility. Sometimes, though, the trauma was more severe than initially diagnosed, which could mean that surgery is the next logical step. Chronic pain and inflammation that don’t improve with conventional treatment options should be evaluated to determine if you are a candidate for surgery.
3. Have you exhausted all other options?
Sometimes physical therapy and medications aren’t enough, and that results in living with pain and other lasting side effects from your injury. If you’ve exhausted several treatment options and still aren’t finding relief from pain and inflammation, surgery could be the answer. Your doctor can refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon that can provide a professional opinion on whether or not surgery is a good choice.
4. Can you head off further pain?
As arthritis sets in and ligaments deteriorate, most injuries will get progressively worse as you age. Many knee procedures are minimally invasive, and can have you back in your feet in just a few days after surgery. If this means preventing a future total knee replacement, you’re making a good investment in your future health and mobility.
If your injury is manageable through conventional options, then you should continue using what works. If you’re not able to manage that pain and inflammation, surgery could dramatically improve your health and quality of life.