Considering Joint Surgery While Raising a Family

The idea of surgery can be stressful. Here are a few things to consider and discuss with your family as you plan what’s right for you.

The prospect of undergoing any type of surgery can be stressful. But when you're worried about how your surgery will affect your family, the stress can be nearly overwhelming.

If you've exhausted more conservative treatment options for your joint pain and are now thinking about undergoing surgery—whether it's a minimally invasive procedure like an arthroscopy or a more invasive operation like a total joint replacement—the following ideas might help you begin a conversation with your loved ones. 

  • Educate. You and your loved ones should know about the condition you're living with. The more everyone in your household understands your condition, the more prepared you'll be to work together to manage its impact. Ask for resources from your doctor, find online or local support groups, and simply be curious together.
  • Communicate. Encourage questions. Answer questions appropriately and with respect to each person's mental and emotional capacity (such as with very young children). Be honest with each other about how you feel. If you or a family member struggles with communication, consider individual, couples', or family counseling where you can develop new strategies and explore your underlying beliefs and expectations around pain and disability.
  • Prepare and learn. If you're thinking about surgery, ask healthcare providers about what to expect and how you can prepare yourself and your loved ones for the recovery period. Surgeons, primary care physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, and other people involved in your care can provide valuable information, equipment recommendations, and even hands-on training. Talk to them about your options so that you and your loved ones will feel more confident as you enter the healing and rehabilitation stage. 
  • Set an example. It may be possible to live a full and active life even in the face of chronic pain, but in many cases it's not possible to do this without help. Set an example to your loved ones by seeking professional help for your emotional, spiritual, and mental health, as well as physical health. Learn how to manage stress and practice efficient coping strategies. Encourage your loved ones to do the same and commit as a family to a healthier lifestyle. 

Juggling family, work, social life, hobbies, and even personal goals can be challenging for everyone—and especially for individuals living with moderate to severe joint pain. With the right tools and resources, you and your loved ones can learn how to cope with the unique constraints of your chronic condition and maintain a healthy dynamic within your home and your relationships.
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