FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHEN DO I QUALIFY FOR AN OPERATION?
You are eligible for surgery when a surgeon in the Netherlands has evaluated your situation and spoken to you about it. An x-ray of your knee or hip will be taken and studied before the surgeon discusses the situation with you. Based on this information the doctor will inform you of the possibilities. If surgery is suggested it means that a surgical intervention is the best solution for your problem. This surgery and rehabilitation can be done in Spain. The ultimate decision about what should be done rests with you and will usually be based on the amount of discomfort and pain you may be experiencing because of osteoarthritis. It is also extremely important to keep the muscles around the joint supple by doing regular exercise a stationary bicycle.
HOW LONG WILL MY HIP OR KNEE HURT AFTER SURGERY?
The actual postoperative pain decreases significantly after a few days, but most patients experience an immediate disappearance of the pain caused by osteoarthritis. The intensive rehabilitation programme begins three days after the operation. During the next three weeks, the pain will gradually diminish, but you will be given painkillers to take to manage your pain based on your individual pain threshold. After three weeks of intensive rehabilitation you will be able to do most of your daily activities without pain.
HOW SOON AFTER THE PLACEMENT OF A PROSTHESIS CAN I DRIVE A CAR?
After about six weeks you should easily be able to walk without crutches. At that stage you will have regained enough muscle control in all situations to be able to respond quickly and appropriately, so you may drive a car then. If you have had surgery on your left knee or hip and you have a car with automatic transmission, you may possibly be able to drive your car slightly earlier.
ARE THERE POSSIBILITIES OTHER THAN THE SURGICAL PLACEMENT OF AN ARTIFICIAL JOINT?
If your knee or hip really is completely worn out, there are no other possibilities. If your knee or hip is not as severely worn or damaged the pain can often be controlled by taking paracetamol or other anti-inflammatory medication. Sometimes it can help to do an arthroscopy to clean the joint. Protection in the form of a brace (a metal or plastic shell that you can tie around the knee) prevents abnormal movements and ensures that the knee is protected.
In the case of mild knee joint wear we can inject the joint with hyaluronic acid. This fluid acts as a lubricant in the knee and can therefore relieve pain for a period of several weeks to a few months.
If there is very little local damage to the cartilage, for example, after an accident, it can sometimes be repaired with cartilage cultured from cartilage cells. In the event of the entire joint being worn out this treatment is not an option yet.
WHAT HAPPENS REGARDING MY REHABILITANTION AFTER I HAVE RETURNED TO THE NETHERLANDS?
When you leave us you will be able to walk without crutches and do many of your normal daily activities. It is important that you continue practising with a physiotherapist in the Netherlands in order to maintain the health of your joints. It is therefore useful to find a physiotherapist in your region and make appointments with him/her for the period after you have returned from Spain. We will then be able to contact this physiotherapist and discuss your progress with him /her.