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Questions To Ask When Considering Elbow Replacement Surgery

The thought of having elbow surgery can be scary. It can be hard to know what questions to ask. Here’s a list to help start a conversation with your doctor.

The idea of discussing elbow replacement surgery with your doctor can be intimidating. Below are some questions you may want to ask your doctor when considering elbow surgery. You may want to print this list and take it with you to your appointment. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of your pain to share with your doctor at the same time.

For information about the risks associated with elbow replacement surgery, click here.

About surgery...

1. How do you determine whether or not I would be a candidate for elbow replacement surgery?

2. What would happen if I postpone surgery for six months? One year?

3. Are there alternative treatments I could try first?

4. What’s the difference between an anatomic and a reverse shoulder? How’s the decision made as to which procedure is appropriate?

5. Will I need rotator cuff repair as well?

6. What are the most common complications and how are they treated?

7. What are the risks associated with elbow replacement?

8. How many times have you performed this surgery?

9. How long does surgery take?

10. How long will the incision/scar be?

About recovery...

1. What is the average recovery time?

2. Will I need to have my arm in a sling? If so, for how long?

3. How long will I have to be away from work?

4. What is recovery like one month after surgery? Two months? One year?

5. How many days, if any, will I be in the hospital after surgery?

6. Will I have physical therapy? If so, how often and for how long? Will I do therapy on my own or will I see a physical therapist?

7. Will I need full-time or part-time care? If so, for how long?

About returning to activity...

1. When can I sleep on the operative side after surgery?

2. When can I shower after surgery?

3. When will I be able to resume normal lifestyle activities (e.g., work, sports, housework, gardening, etc.)?

4. Which sports, if any, will I be able to play again?

5.. Will I have any permanent activity restrictions?

6. Are there lifting limits?

7. Will I set off metal detectors at the airport?

8. Will I need antibiotics for dental procedures?

About the implant...

1. What is the implant made of?

2. Is there a possibility the implants will need to be replaced in the future?

3. What can I do to help keep my joint replacement functioning as long as possible?

While not an exhaustive list, you can use this as a starting point to open a conversation with your doctor. You can also download and take this Guide to total joint surgery with you.

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This article was reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Seth Gamradt, paid Zimmer Biomet consultant.

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