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Medical Moment: Why postponing procedures is a bad idea

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 7:30 PM EST
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A recent study found that 53 percent of people surveyed said their bone, joint, and muscle issues have worsened since the COVID-19 lockdown.

Many of these patients have put off surgery to fix their pain. However, postponing these procedures has led to a serious backlog for doctors.

Judy McCormack, has always been active, but constant hip pain was interfering with movement and preventing a fully autonomous lifestyle.

“[I] cancelled ski trips and wasn’t able to get my leg up over the bike like I wanted to,” Judy said.

She needed a hip replacement and doctors told her the news in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Judy decided to go ahead with the procedure after taking a few precautions.

“I was very concerned about being vaccinated before,” she said.

Doctor Richard Berger says Judy was smart not to wait. When you delay hip or knee surgery, it can worsen arthritis and lead to a longer rehab. But patients and hundreds of US hospitals have put elective surgeries on hold because of COVID-19.

Researchers predict the number of hip replacements to double and the number of knee replacements to increase at least five-fold in the next decade. A study in The Lancet found the US should expect a backlog of more than one million join and spinal surgeries by mid 2022. Doctor Berger says if you’re experiencing pain, don’t wait to schedule your surgery.

And if you’re worried about going into a hospital, don’t be.

If your surgery is postponed, there are some ways to help you cope with the pain. Using an aid, like a walker or cane, may help alleviate the discomfort. You can also try over-the-counter pain relievers or applying heat and ice to the affected joint.

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