Overcoming Anxiety for Joint Replacement Surgery

FYI, internet searches might increase your anxiety for joint replacement.

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It’s normal to be nervous leading up to your joint replacement surgery. That said, you don’t have to let the fear consume you. There are a number of ways you can seek support or get your questions answered, which can help alleviate your anxiety for joint replacement surgery.

Fear of the Unknown: Getting Your Questions Answered

It’s especially common to have anxiety for joint replacement if it’s your first surgery, says William Macaulay, MD, orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Health. This may be your first time under anesthesia or your first time being admitted to the hospital.

“Typically, I'll take a patient like that and give them the phone number of two or three patients just like them, who had the procedure within the last few years,” says Dr. Macaulay. “That will go a long way to allay people's fears.”

Find out more info about knee replacement surgery here, and learn more about hip replacement surgery here.

Navigating Post-Surgery: A Support Team

“Any surgery can be anxiety-producing for patients. It is important that you have a support system in place to help manage that anxiety,” says Ann Marie Moynihan, RN, director of nursing at NYU Langone Health.

Along with emotional support, you also need at least one person who can help with the logistics. They can attend appointments to help you ask questions, drive you to and from the surgery, and help with your recovery at home. Moynihan says this is especially important “within the first 24 hours after surgery."

Learn more about what to expect during recovery from joint replacement here.

Anxiety for Joint Replacement: Finding More Information

The internet may have information on joint replacement surgery, but you need to be cautious about what you read. You might read something that piques your imagination and worsens your anxiety. These may include information that doesn’t pertain to you, is inaccurate, or lacks context.

“When patients ask me where they should get their information about joint replacement surgery, the best advice I can have for them is not to use Google and other search engines,” says Dr. Macaulay. “I would get your information from your surgeon [or] from the clinical team and their office.”

Talking directly with your surgeon can give you a better idea of the potential risks of the procedure. Hearing the risks may make you nervous, but the truth is, serious ones are relatively rare. “If you add up all these different potential complications, the incidence is very low,” says Dr. Macaulay.

Whatever your concerns are, your surgeon can likely provide you with answers. Your surgeon likely has great experience performing this type of surgery and can give you a sense of what to expect.