If you're on a waiting list for a hip or knee replacement, there are resources and advice to help you stay as fit and healthy as possible.
Working to improve your physical and mental wellbeing before surgery can:
- help you to stay strong and mobile
- prevent additional physical and mental health problems
- help you to cope with surgery and the recovery afterwards
There are many ways to help manage pain.
Having a better understanding of pain can be very helpful if you're living with it.
A public health campaign called 'Flippin' Pain' has further information on persistent pain.
This campaign was developed by a team of health professionals who work alongside people with chronic pain.
'Flippin' Pain' is also available on social media through Twitter and Facebook.
Using medication to control pain
There are lots of different types of pain relief to help joint pain, including paracetamol and NSAIDs.
Night time pain that affects your sleep is common in end-stage arthritis. Taking pain relief before bed may help to improve these symptoms.
However, for some, pain relief may become less effective over time. This is usually the case if you've reached the stage where you and your orthopaedic team are considering joint replacement. This means many people may need a different way to manage pain.
The charity Versus Arthritis has further information on different kinds of pain relief.
Opioid medication can sometimes be prescribed by a doctor for severe joint pain.
Opioid medication includes:
However, these medications can often have side effects, including:
- long-term dependence
These side effects often get worse if you take opioids for a while or take them a lot.
Taking opioids before your operation can also be problematic. This is because it can impact on your recovery and increase the risk that you'll have to continue to take opioids afterwards.
This means it's really important to think about whether the pain relief you're on is still helping. If it's at all possible, try to slowly reduce the amount you take before the date of your surgery.
Injections into the affected joint can sometimes be used to help relieve the pain from arthritis. This may provide short-term help but it's not a cure.
If injection therapies are used too near to an operation, they lead to a higher risk of infection. However, if it's going to be a long time until your operation, they may be an option to consider.
Pain and mental wellbeing are closely connected. For example, your mental wellbeing can affect how you feel pain. Persistent pain can also contribute to some mental health conditions.
You should speak to a healthcare professional if pain is affecting your mental wellbeing. They'll be able to advise on the possible treatments and support that's available in your area, including:
Some people also find that complementary therapies like acupuncture may help. However, these are not currently recommended treatments.
The Versus Arthritis website has further information on different types of complementary therapies.
It's important to continue doing activities that take you out of the house. Being with others in a different space can benefit your mental health and wellbeing.
You can find ways to socialise through support groups and local arthritis charities. This will also give you the chance to meet people in a similar situation.
Weight loss is an important part of managing arthritis pain before surgery.
Even a 5% reduction in bodyweight can greatly reduce arthritis pain and improve function.
However, the results appear to be better the more weight that is lost.
Weight loss works by reducing the amount of stress that is placed on the joints whilst moving and standing.
You can lose weight safely through:
An anti-inflammatory diet may also help with arthritis pain while you're waiting on a hip or knee replacement. This includes eating foods like:
- nuts and seeds
- fruit and vegetables
Further information on specific types of food that can help.
Where to get further support
To get further advice and support on your condition, speak to a healthcare professional.
If you have any questions before your surgery, contact your surgeon for advice.
The charity Versus Arthritis also has further information on support available across Scotland.
Support at work
A long-term condition may mean that you need extra support at work.
Speak to your employer to arrange an occupational health assessment. This will give you information on potential changes in the workplace that'll improve your safety and comfort.
You can also speak to your GP about getting workplace adaptations.
If you struggle to get around by car, it could be helpful to apply for a Blue Badge. This will allow you to park closer to where you're going.