Fear of Knee Replacement Surgery

May 29, 2020

Written by: Dr. Atul Wankhede

Surgery, the name itself brings a sense of fear in all of us. Be it a simple injection or a tooth extraction to a more complex sounding abdominal procedure, the feelings in ones mind is anything but pleasing.

Since its inception our species has been known to suffer with diseases which have co-existed, the battle against whom we've sometimes lost and sometimes won. The warfare has always changed and has changed for good. For past 2000 years our people got to a more invasive technique which came to be known as 'Surgery'. In the recent history though, we really got into a hurry and started to intervene into almost everything we knew could otherwise be treated or could not be treated conservatively.

So what is it that gets everyone so worked up by this term which once came as a boon to mankind? Being a knee replacement surgeon I see it all the time. Is it the fear of giving up your body to an environment that you have no control over? Or the feeling of knife being put to skin and resultant pain which flares up after the numbness wears off. Whatever it is, its the most primitive instinct which warns us of a threat, albeit manmade. Which in turn is a good thing as it helps us take the right decision. Most of them never say it but mean to ask 'Do I really need it'? I mean yes I would want them to get better without having to undergo a surgery, but wouldn't I try everything else before that? Isn't getting operated the last resort in every illness which requires one? The answer is yes and having seen your patients come out successfully from a major surgery is encouraging enough, you only wish others can see the same emotion. Overcoming a fear such as this not only amounts to bravery but also adds to ones character. Bravery to have done something which puts not only the body but also the mind into a lot of agony. And that I think is amazing!

The only way I feel one can overcome this fear is to understand and accept that sometimes every other option of treating a particular ailment has exhausted and surgery is the only way to sustain the quality of life in its broadest sense.

Every person I've operated has also asked me regarding the success of the surgery. Now there are ways to describe that term, but I guess what they really want to know will it make them happy? The answer is yes, it will. Eventually. Far more early than not. And like every other thing in life here too there's a chance that it wont. The chance is less but its there. Some claim to have known people who've had their knees replaced and not had success. I cant deny people like those exist but isn't there a reason to that? If this procedure was so unsuccessful do you think people would still go ahead and do it? And the number of surgeries have only gone high stating there's definitely something right about it.

To sum it up-
Surgery sounds scary:
Is it expensive?
Will it be painful?
Even a kitchen knife gives a painful cut, so does a surgery. But like every other, even this pain goes away.
Will it be easy?
Nothing in life is easy, but unlike life this one will be fair.
Is there a risk?
Yes. Like in every other surgery. But the benefits outweigh the risk.
Will I be able to walk?
Better than ever.
And will it make life easier?
Hell Yes!

So don't be afraid. My advice to all is to have all the questions answered and all fears addressed. Talking to the surgeon is singularly the best way to put ones mind at ease and develop confidence for the procedure.

Remember pain is inevitable... but sufferance is optional.

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