What are the side effects of orthopedic surgery? One of the more disturbing things we see in interventional orthopedics is patients who have undergone multiple aggressive types of orthopedic surgery. The behavior is a bit like a gambler at a casino. If you don’t hit it big the first time, keep doubling down until you hit it or are bankrupt. Regrettably, we often see patients get very, very injured by this approach. Yesterday, Dr. Markle, from our Colorado office, relayed a story that really highlights how bad this can be.
The side effects of orthopedic surgery are real. Patients often forget or just don’t know that every surgical procedure does harm. It’s impossible to cut into the body and not damage tissue. The only question is whether the possible benefits outweigh the harm. Here the calculus is easy. If you have a less invasive procedure that is lower risk, the possible benefits don’t have to be as much to make the math work in the patient’s favor. However, the bigger and more invasive the procedure, the bigger the weight it must carry that it provides a clear benefit.
This is the patient’s story in Dr. Markle’s words:
To summarize, we have a college baseball catcher who had steroids pumped into his knee 3–5 times a year for eight years. If you read this blog, you know that these injections will kill cartilage and local stem cells, the opposite of what we want. First, he had three knee microfracture surgeries, none of which helped. These surgeries involve poking holes in the bone. Each of these surgeries caused scar tissue. Then, in a body tuned to micromillimeter precision, another surgery was performed in which they moved his quadriceps tendon from where it should live to a new spot, leaving him with chronic tendinopathy. Finally, the blind nerve blocks performed on important leg nerves injured those structures. So this patient knows at a visceral level about the side effects of orthopedic surgery.
This is just one example of how patients just keep allowing surgeons to continue to injure their joints with more and escalating orthopedic surgery. We’ve seen patients who are on their 8th–12th surgery in the same joint, and that joint, largely due to the surgeries, is trashed.
So what can you do to prevent this insanity? Don’t allow yourself or a loved one to get suckered into a second, third, or subsequent procedure. If the first procedure fails, get opinions from multiple physicians (both surgical and nonsurgical). In addition, make sure you try all nonsurgical regenerative medicine options from qualified physicians.
The upshot? Don’t be like that poor guy at the casino who keeps betting despite being on a serious losing streak. They usually roll that guy out at the crack of dawn with empty pockets and a hangover. Don’t be that patient who knows all too well about the side effects of orthopedic surgery! So the possible benefits need to outweigh the injury the procedure will cause. If you don’t get relief from the first procedure, STOP, LOOK FOR OUTSIDE OPINIONS, AND THINK.
About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…