Patients in pain left waiting for joint replacement surgery due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Living with osteoarthritis pain is difficult enough. But living with that pain while waiting for joint åreplacement surgery can be even more discouraging.

If this resembles your story, you’re not alone.

A recent Globe and Mail article discusses this phenomenon of so called “lifestyle surgeries” being postponed during the pandemic. In fact, the president of the Canadian Orthopedic Association (COA) notes that knee and hip surgeries were disproportionately affected by these delays.

Patients dans une salle d'attente

Knee and hip surgeries were disproportionately affected by delays due to COVID-19

In the wake of the pandemic, it’s understandable that operating room time was dedicated to life-saving procedures.

But for individuals living osteoarthritis (OA), some of whom may be experiencing debilitating pain, joint replacement surgery is anything but optional.

As the COA president notes, the perception that they are lifestyle surgeries is “the furthest thing from the truth. They’re restorative surgeries for debilitating conditions.”

The article also points out that orthopedic surgeons worry that their patients will continue to deteriorate during the delay – a valid concern considering that OA is a progressive and incurable condition.

One orthopedic surgeon and assistant university professor commented that doctors might suggest various treatments to ease discomfort for their patients.

Naturally, each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, she says, and may not be as effective in people with severe joint damage.

Don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor to discover what treatments could work for you and your OA pain.

SYNVISC®/SYNVISC-ONE® may be an option for you if your surgery is cancelled or delayed

In addition to lifestyle efforts to manage OA including regular exercise and weight management, you may be able to get pain relief from OA pain with SYNVISC®/SYNVISC-ONE®.

About SYNVISC®/SYNVISC-ONE®:

  • SYNVISC® and SYNVISC-ONE® (hylan G-F 20) are gel-like fluids that contain a derivative of hyaluronic acid. They are used as a temporary replacement and supplement for joint fluid. They are not corticosteroid injections, but a different type of joint injection called viscosupplementation.

  • Derived from hyaluronic acid, SYNVISC® and SYNVISC-ONE® are the only viscosupplement injections that have a formulation which mimics the elasticity and thickness of synovial fluid.

  • Viscosupplementation with SYNVISC-ONE® is a treatment to decrease OA pain and discomfort, allowing more extensive movement of the knee joint. Viscosupplementation with SYNVISC® is a treatment to decrease OA pain and discomfort, allowing more extensive movement of the joint including the knee joint, shoulder, hip joint, or ankle.

  • SYNVISC® and SYNVISC-ONE® have been shown to reduce pain from osteoarthritis for up to 6 months.

  • SYNVISC®/SYNVISC-ONE® are the most widely-used intra-articular hyaluronic acids in Canada and can be used for all severities of osteoarthritis.

To learn more about SYNVISC®/SYNVISC-ONE® injection treatments, click here.

Read the Globe and Mail article here.

This product may not be right for you. Consult your healthcare professional. SYNVISC® is only intended for intra-articular use by a physician to relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee, shoulder, hip and ankle.

Change your osteoarthritis story

If your osteoarthritis story includes knee or hip problems, you aren't alone. Ask your healthcare provider what treatment options or pain medications may ease pain and could be right for you. Some, you may have tried before, such as over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen. But keep in mind that you may have more options thank you think.

Here are some tips to some frequently asked questions when it comes to OA.

  • Where do I start?
    X-rays are an important part of assessing damage to joints caused by osteoarthritis. So don't hesitate to ask for an x-ray of the affected joint at your next physical examination if you're experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis or arthritis pain. Make sure to take one while standing for knee OA, so your doctor can see the space between the bones and examine the cartilage

  • What approach should I take to treating OA?
    Ask your healthcare provider about exploring what's called a "multimodal treatment approach." This may combine various treatment options for chronic pain from osteoarthritis such as diet, exercise, medication, viscosupplementation, bracing, etc. Because there are many potential causes of joint pain (especially in weight-bearing joints like the hips, knees & ankles) a multi-modal approach may be helpful to address more than one factor.

    For example, certain risk factors like carrying excess body weight, being female, obesity, and having a damaged joint due to injury are commonly linked to this form of arthritis.

  • Who can I talk to about OA?
    While your physician is always available to support your health, consulting medical professionals who specialize in certain areas of health can also be beneficial. This may be especially relevant if you've had a knee injury – one of the common causes of knee pain.

    Apart from your doctor, you can also visit a physical therapist, physiotherapist, or occupational therapist to discuss your mobility and range of motion, appropriate low impact and strengthening exercises, and physical therapy. A physiotherapist can help you with personalized exercises. A Certified Orthotist or brace fitter can provide you with a brace, orthosis, or orthotic.

    Visiting an orthopedic clinic can also help to assess joint damage and provide medical advice. You can always ask your family physician to refer you to a medical professional who specializes in the care of joints, ligaments and bones, or a musculoskeletal specialist. This may include sports medicine physicians, orthopedic surgeons, rheumatologists, and physiatrists.

    There are many medical professionals dedicated to your unique needs!

  • What exercises should I do for OA?
    Always consult your physician before engaging in any exercise program. But in general, low-impact exercises like tai chi are well-suited for this type of arthritis to avoid joint injury. Overall, physical activity or exercise programs are also very complementary to other treatments, as is maintaining a healthy weight (or weight loss if necessary).

    If you need assistance with this part of OA management, you can also consult a fitness and nutrition specialist to help find the right exercise and diet plan for you. Don't underestimate the impact that lifestyle changes can have!

  • What else should I do?
    No matter what treatment avenues you're considering, be sure to discuss any benefits and potential side effects with your healthcare provider, and ask about options that may be tried before knee replacement surgery or joint replacement surgery (also known as arthroplasty).

    It's your own wellness and quality of life, so don't hesitate to speak up about painful joints, OA pain management, arthritis symptoms in general, or your treatment plan! Effective treatment for OA pain may be possible, but you need to take an active role in your therapy.

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