Joint replacement surgery is a procedure in which damaged or arthritic joints are replaced with a device that helps restore normal joint function, making everyday tasks easier for someone who is experiencing joint pain.
While the procedure addresses physical concerns such as mobility challenges and chronic pain, it can also have an impact on your mental health. Many people experience anxiety before undergoing surgery, and the joint replacement recovery period can bring its own challenges. It’s important to remember the recovery process requires patience so your body can heal properly.
If you’re experiencing negative emotions related to your joint replacement surgery or recovery, keep reading for some tips on how to cope and take care of your mental health.
Joint Replacement Recovery and the Effect on Patients
Joint replacement patients report feeling a variety of emotions related to their procedure. The type of emotions you may feel may depend on where you are in your joint replacement journey.
Just like any surgery, joint replacement can seem scary. It’s normal to have anxiety in the time leading up to your procedure. Here are a few ways you can combat it.
- Know the facts: Joint replacement surgery is extremely common in the U.S. As of 2021, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons estimates that roughly 2.4 million hip replacements and knee replacements take place each year. The success rate is also very high at 90%.
- Educate yourself early: The easiest way to cope with pre-surgery anxiety is to know what to expect. Do some research on what the procedure entails, and talk with your doctor about what you can expect to feel on the day of your surgery and several weeks or months into joint replacement recovery.
- Connect with other patients: When possible, talk with someone who has had a joint replacement and ask about their experience. Ask how they felt on surgery day and what might have surprised them during the joint replacement recovery process. You can also check out our library of patient stories.
- Know you’re in good hands: Our surgeons at the Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale have performed more than 16,000 successful joint replacements and over 50 years of combined experience. Our team has the proper expertise and training needed to provide the best possible patient experience.
In the beginning stages of joint replacement recovery, it’s possible that you may feel some depression or frustration. This often comes as a result of mobility challenges while your body takes the time it needs to heal. The joint replacement recovery process can take up to six months, so it’s important to be prepared for this.
Some patients find it difficult to be independent after their surgery, especially during the first few weeks of recovery. You may need help walking, navigating stairs or accomplishing household tasks. This is nothing to be ashamed of and will improve with time. Your body will only continue to get stronger.
Addressing Common Recovery Fears
There are a variety of fears patients commonly have during the joint replacement recovery period, including:
- Fear of re-injury: Some patients worry that the weakness they experience after their surgery will cause them to re-injure their joints. You can help minimize any risk of re-injury by following your doctor’s instructions and taking precautions when exercising. Avoid pushing your body beyond what it can handle.
- Fear of lasting immobility: Many joint replacement patients have been living with joint pain and mobility challenges for some time prior to surgery. Experiencing these same mobility challenges is common during joint replacement recovery, which can lead to a fear that you will never be able to complete normal daily tasks again. Be patient with yourself as you heal, and express any concerns to your doctor.
Coping Strategies to Ease Surgery Anxiety
If you’re experiencing anxiety before or after your joint replacement surgery, here are a few coping recommendations to try.
Educate and Prepare Yourself
Educate yourself on what to expect, and use this information to plan accordingly. For example, you may consider rearranging parts of your home prior to surgery in preparation for your joint replacement recovery. This can help make it easier for you to get around once you’re discharged.
Build a Support System
Ask your family and friends for help in preparation for your surgery. This could include asking for rides to and from your surgery appointment, help with household chores or simply asking them to keep you company.
Make sure you communicate your concerns and challenges to the people around you so you can get the support you need. You can also utilize a website like CaringBridge to post updates on your joint replacement recovery for friends and family.
Engage in Self-care
Self-care in joint replacement recovery is important for your healing. Be sure to:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Make healthy meal choices
- Exercise regularly at a level your body can handle
- Practice meditation and mindfulness
See a Therapist or Counselor
If you’re struggling with negative thoughts and feelings following your surgery, make an appointment to discuss these with a trained mental health counselor. They can help walk you through additional strategies you can use as you learn to cope with your joint replacement recovery.
Preparing for Your Joint Replacement Surgery
The most important piece of joint replacement recovery is learning to be patient with yourself and your body as you heal. Try to address and accept your condition as a patient as best you can, and reach out for help if you feel overwhelmed.
Finding a reputable provider for your joint replacement may help ease your anxiety. Our very own Dr. Shane Martin is a nationally renowned expert in robotic-assisted joint replacement and one of the most experienced robotic surgeons in the world, having completed more than 4,000 robotic procedures since 2009.