What to expect before seeing an Orthopaedic Surgeon
For most of our patients, we follow a process of assessment like this:
- You have an injury or condition causing you pain and/or movement difficulties which affect your daily activities and leisure.
- First, you should see your GP or visit a physiotherapist for an initial assessment. It is likely they will arrange for diagnostic imaging such as a X-Ray or Ultrasound to assist with making a diagnosis. They will give their opinion on how you can manage and improve your condition, which might include simple pain medicines, anti-inflammatories, rest, exercises, or physiotherapy.
- If your symptoms persist, your doctor may suggest seeing an Orthopaedic Surgeon for an opinion.
They may recommend a surgeon they know, or you can suggest a surgeon who has been recommended by a trusted family member or friend.
- To access a Medicare rebate for appointments with your surgeon, you will need a referral letter from your doctor. Referral letters from GPs last for 12 months, and referral letters from other specialists last for 3 months. (Please note that Physiotherapists’ referrals do not apply for the Medicare rebate, so you will need a referral letter from a GP or specialist. It is not essential to have the GP’s referral letter before contacting us to make an appointment. You can book first, provided you collect the GP’s referral letter before the day of your appointment with your OSA surgeon).
- Contact your preferred surgeon to make an appointment. In most cases, your OSA surgeon will be able to schedule your initial consultation within 2-3 weeks.
If your condition is urgent, please tell our Practice Manager when you make your appointment, and we will book you in as soon as possible.
- If you need an X-Ray or Ultrasound, schedule this appointment at least a few days before you see your surgeon. This allows time for the Radiologist to send their report. If you need an MRI for further information, it is best for your surgeon will make the request. This usually saves you hundreds of dollars of out-of-pocket costs compared with having your GP make the MRI request.
- Visit your surgeon for an opinion on your condition.
What to expect during your initial consultation
During your first appointment, your surgeon will take a full history of your condition or injury, perform a physical examination, and review the imaging.
It might help to make a list of your symptoms and any questions in advance, to make sure we cover everything you need to know. Please bring a list of your medical conditions and medications to help your surgeon to plan your treatment.
You are welcome to bring a family member or friend to the appointment, or bring an interpreter if English is not your first language.
After listening to you, examining you, and reviewing any tests, your surgeon will be able to explain the likely cause of your symptoms. Sometimes the diagnosis is straightforward, and we can go directly to a discussion about treatment. Other times the diagnosis is not clear. This will usually lead to other tests such as an MRI.
You and your surgeon can then individualise treatment, so it is the best thing for you. This may include:
- Further tests or imaging such as MRI
- Appropriate pain management and physical therapy
- Referral to another specialist
- Benefits of surgery
Your surgeon may ask you to come back for review in a few weeks to see how your condition is progressing.
If you need orthopaedic surgery
We know you will have many questions, and we take a measured and caring approach during consultations and on the day of surgery. We will explain what will happen during your surgery and what you can expect after surgery.
During your consultation, your surgeon will discuss with you:
- The details of surgery, and the benefits and risks of the procedure
- The expected outcome of surgery and the time frame of recovery and return to function
- A brief explanation of the anaesthetic
- How long you will need to stay in hospital after surgery
- If you need to stay in a rehabilitation hospital
- Post-operative symptoms and when to call your surgeon for advice
- Which medications you can take to ease your pain
- When you can bear weight on the affected limb
- When to have dressings changed
- Which recovery aids might be useful, such as slings, crutches, or a walking frame
- When you can expect to return to work, exercise and sport
- Which exercises you should do at home, and if you need to see a physiotherapist
- When to come back for post-operative appointments
Last, and certainly not least: there are no silly questions, so please ask us anything you need to know. We want you to feel comfortable leading up to your surgery.
What to expect after surgery, during your recovery period
The most common question our patients ask is: “How long until I’m better?” That is not surprising, because you want to get back to feeling your best again.
For the best possible outcome, you will need adequate rest after surgery. For this reason, we encourage you to arrange any help you need to make the most of your recovery period.
When surgery is not urgent, we can schedule your surgery with enough time for you to prepare. (Of course, when a condition is medically urgent and surgery needs to be performed urgently, we will arrange your operation as soon as possible.)
For you, this might mean choosing to delay surgery until you can arrange a support network or arrange a long enough break from work.
Depending on your circumstances, you might need to:
- Arrange someone to take you to and from hospital
- Plan time off work and a gradual return to work, including lifts to work if you can’t drive
- Ask family or friends to help look after children, dependants, or pets
- Prepare meals in advance, or arrange a meal delivery service if you can’t shop or cook
- Book a cleaner, gardener or other home help
- Choose loose-fitting clothes that are easy to take on and off during your recovery period
The last thing you want is to do too much too soon and make your condition worse. It is important to take your time to rest, do your exercises and physiotherapy, and recover gently. We recommend a gradual return to activity.
Tailored recovery programs
After surgery, we provide regular follow up and attentive after-care.
Our team works collaboratively with each patient’s GP and Allied Health professionals (such as Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists) to provide individualised post-operative care.
Your surgeon will discuss your plan for return to work, activities, exercise and sport. We know it can be frustrating to return to activities slowly, and patience is critical here.
You will see your surgeon for a series of post-operative appointments to monitor your recovery. If you have any concerns during this phase, please contact your surgeon’s rooms immediately.