Should You Put Off Joint Surgery During COVID-19?

Zimmer Biomet launched an educational campaign in an effort to encourage people with chronic joint pain to make informed decisions about joint surgery during COVID-19.

Amanda Pedersen

October 23, 2020

3 Min Read
Knee Surgery Resized_2.jpg
Image by romaset - Adobe Stock

Orthopedic companies are anxious to get patients back into the operating room for hip and knee replacements. Zimmer Biomet recently launched an educational campaign in an effort to guide people with chronic joint pain on navigating joint surgery during COVID-19.

The company said that the multimedia campaign, Don’t Let Pain Gain on You, is informed by the results of a new U.S. survey that reveals nearly half (48%) of joint surgery candidates have postponed treatment due to fears stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand why the pandemic has created uncertainty around elective procedures like joint replacement surgery, but we also know that for some people coping with chronic debilitating joint pain, postponing a necessary procedure could have a significant impact on quality of life and continue to cause life-altering pain and loss of mobility,” said Ivan Tornos, group president for global businesses and the Americas at Zimmer Biomet. “With this new campaign, we look to encourage people to have a proactive conversation with their doctor about joint replacement surgery and get the support and care they need to address their pain, safely and with confidence."

The U.S. survey of 1,200 joint surgery patients, candidates, and caregivers, conducted in August and September 2020 by Wakefield Research on behalf of Zimmer Biomet, revealed that the vast majority (82%) of people who did undergo joint surgery during the pandemic said that they felt safe doing so, and 64% said they did not feel at risk for contracting a virus, such as COVID-19, at the site of their surgery.

However, among those who have postponed their joint surgery, the survey also shed light on the duration, rationale, and implications of those delays:

  • 53% of those surveyed have been waiting more than a year to address their pain with joint surgery.

  • Of those who have been waiting more than a year, nearly two in three (61%) people did so specifically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Those who have postponed their joint surgery due to COVID-19 report increases in joint pain (71%), limitations to mobility (58%), and trouble sleeping (35%).

  • 56% of caregivers wished their loved one would move forward with surgery more quickly even during the pandemic in order to relieve their physical pain and lessen the negative impact on quality of life.

The survey also highlighted a significant lack of awareness about digital options for care management, finding that 83% of people who have postponed their joint surgery said they were not aware of virtual solutions to support post-operative recovery, prior to their joint surgery being cancelled due to the pandemic.

“Addressing chronic, debilitating joint pain through joint replacement surgery is not something to delay without an in-depth conversation with a surgeon, even during COVID-19. For my patients, I weigh the risks to long-term health and quality of life caused by delaying this surgery as part of the discussion,” said Trevor Pickering, MD, a hip and knee replacement specialist at the Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center. “For extra peace of mind, you can ask your physician about surgical options that can minimize time spent in a hospital, and about virtual communications tools which allow you to communicate virtually with your surgeon through the journey pre- and post-surgery.”

One such tool is Zimmer Biomet’s mymobility app on the Apple Watch, a first-of-its-kind remote care management system that uses iPhone and Apple Watch to facilitate a new level of connection between patients and their surgical care teams which is intended to replace the need for unnecessary physical touchpoints. The technology acts as a virtual and continuous care team, providing patients with support and guidance as they prepare for and recover from these surgeries. It also delivers continuous data to healthcare professionals on patients’ activity and post-operative progress with the goal of helping surgeons to maximize patient outcomes and minimize risk of patient complications.

About the Author(s)

Amanda Pedersen

Amanda Pedersen is a veteran journalist and award-winning columnist with a passion for helping medical device professionals connect the dots between the medtech news of the day and the bigger picture. She has been covering the medtech industry since 2006.

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