Survival Guide When You’re Waiting for a Sports Surgery

We talked with Brent Warner, M.D., one of Summit Orthopedics’ sports medicine specialists, about his top tips to not only survive, but also thrive, in this time of waiting.

Having a delayed surgery can make you feel like you’re stuck in a holding pattern. But here is the good news: there are many things you can be doing right now to set you up for the best possible outcome when you are able to have your surgery. You are not in this alone. Our team, here at Summit Orthopedics, is here to support you during this challenging time. Dr. Brent Warner shares tips and guidelines to help bridge the gap.

Stay active

Being active in a healthy, safe way is essential to maintain the strength in your muscles that will be supporting your joint after surgery. Before you start, make sure to do a longer-than-normal warm-up, and stretch gently. Let your body be your guide. Start slowly with activities that allow for social distancing and are low impact such as walking, and pay attention to your body’s signals. A little discomfort in your joint is okay. It’s when it switches to pain that you want to slow down and/or stop activity. If you do develop pain, use the tools below to help manage your discomfort.

Use tools you have at home to help manage pain

  1. Over-the-counter medications: Follow your doctor’s recommendations on new medications, but over-the-counter NSAIDs (ibuprofen, naproxen) and acetaminophen can be very effective in treating joint pain. Take them according to instructions printed on the box or bottle.
  2. RICE therapy:
    • R = Rest. Start with relative rest. Rest doesn’t mean no activity at all. It means taking some time during the day when your joint is in pain to give it a break. It also means taking regular days each week to rest from activities that cause the joint to be painful.
    • I = Ice (or heat). One analogy is a race horse — before activity the jockey and trainer warm up the horse, and then after activity cool it down. Think of yourself as that race horse. If you are stiff in the joint in the morning or after a long period of rest, you can use heat to help get the joint moving. Then after activity, or at the end of the day, use ice to manage inflammation and swelling. If you don’t have an ice pack, a bag of frozen vegetables works just fine. Remember to put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin, and don’t ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.
    • C = Compression. Use an elastic bandage to wrap the affected joint. This can help reduce or control swelling and provide support for your joint. If you experience a tingling sensation, or numbness, the bandage is too tight and you should rewrap it looser.
    • E = Elevation. Whenever you’re sitting or lying down, use pillows to get the affected joint above the level of your heart. The goal of this is to reduce swelling.

Continued orthopedic care: Video Visits and OrthoQUICK

Now there is a way to make appointments with your physician through our new video visits. It is very similar to a regular in-person appointment with your healthcare provider except that you and the provider will not be in the same room. You will talk to and see each other real-time through a video call conferencing software.  Call our scheduling line at 651-968-5201 to set up your visit.

Also, our OrthoQUICK urgent orthopedic care sites will remain open for urgent injuries and complications. We have locations in Eagan and Vadnais Heights, as well as a new temporary location in Woodbury off 494 & Tamarack Road.

We encourage you to keep taking the steps to remain active to be ready once your surgery can take place. By delaying your elective surgery, you helped make critical protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, and gloves, available to hospitals during this crisis.

Stay connected: Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and visit our website to find resources on exercise and physical therapy that you can use while stuck at home!

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  • Brent Warner MD

    Brent Warner, M.D.

    “As an athlete, I understand the profound impact that an injury can have on a patient’s life and well-being. My goal is to return people to activity as quickly and safely as possible, whether that’s training for an ultramarathon or walking the dog around the block.”

    More about this expert

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