In life, timing is everything. But, let’s face it, there’s no good time to hear you need a total knee replacement. Unfortunately, some things are inevitable. All you can do is make the best of your situation by choosing a time of year that causes the least amount of hassle.
Certain times of the year are better suited to knee surgery than others. When it’s time to schedule surgery, consider:
- the type of insurance you have
- what activities you like to do throughout the year
- what your work schedule will allow
If you must go through a total knee replacement, check out the following tips to make scheduling your surgery a little less stressful.
Scheduling Around Insurance
I’m sure just hearing the word ‘insurance’ makes you cringe. Dealing with insurance companies is often a painful experience in and of itself. While they can be a huge hassle, insurance companies are a necessary evil that we all must deal with at one point or another.
Tips for dealing with insurance companies:
- Most private insurance company deductibles typically reset at the start of the year on January 1st
- Some companies reset on July 1st, so be sure to check with your company first.
- If you have Medicare, your yearly allotment will always reset on January 1st.
The best time to schedule surgery is just after your deductible resets. You can take full advantage of your benefits, get all of the post-op physical therapy and treatments you need, and won’t have to worry about deductibles and copays.
One of the most important parts of any joint replacement is to do physical therapy. However, the costs of physical therapy can be confusing. See our short guide on the costs of physical therapy with the anticipation that you will have met your deductible by the point you start therapy.
How Insurance Deductibles Work
Wipe Out Your Worries About Working
Keeping your employer happy and staying employed might be one of your concerns. I’m sure you’ve asked yourself:
Will I be penalized for taking time off?
Do I have enough PTO days to cover this?
How will I afford your living expenses if I’m not working?
Keeping the communication waves open between you and your employer is imperative so you can arrange the best time to take off and accommodate any physical restrictions that you may have when you return.
Depending on what type of job to have we recommend planning on taking of at least 4-6 weeks after surgery.
Going back to work sooner can be done but it will potentially increase how long you have swelling, pain, and delay getting back to normal activities.
Consider investing in supplemental income insurance such as Aflac™ or Old Mutual™. These companies supplement your existing insurance and help cover everyday living expenses.
Plan Ahead For Your Favorite Events
The pain of a knee replacement is bad enough. Don’t add insult to injury by scheduling your surgery during a big life event. Check your social calendar and try to schedule surgery during a slow period.
After a total knee replacement, it can take a good 3-6 months to get back to ‘normal’. If you’re an active person and like to participate in outdoor activities consider the time of year you do these activities and plan accordingly.
If you’re a skier or into more extreme activities/sports that put a lot of strain on your knees then you may need closer to a year before you can get back to your old ways. Don’t rush the healing process and end up causing more damage.
When Can you Get a Caregiver?
Whether or not you get a caregiver depends greatly upon your situation. Studies show that in most cases people who undergo a joint replacement surgery can go home unattended with little or no complications.
If you are in overall good health and physical condition before surgery then you shouldn’t have any problems going home after being released from the hospital. Being in good health and physical condition also speeds up the healing process and recovery time.
In some situations where a person may be elderly or not in good physical/overall health, a trip to a rehabilitation facility may be in order until they can function on their own without supervision.
In other situations, patients can go home but may require someone to stay with them or stop in multiple times throughout the day to help them with certain tasks.
Don’t base your situation on someone else’s. Everyone heals at a different rate and requires different things. Take your time and follow the recommendations of your surgeon and physical therapists.
Think About the Weather
The postal service may go anywhere in any weather, but you probably don’t want to. Before scheduling your surgery, consider the season and what your weather will be like. If you live in a place like sunny California where you typically don’t have snow, the time of year probably won’t matter as much to you. However, if you live in a part of the country that has a long winter season, you may want to factor that into your decision.
Have you ever tried to use crutches or a walker when the ground is covered in ice, snow, or slush? NOT FUN!
You may end up falling and require another surgery if you are not careful. Also, consider the fact that you will be making multiple trips to a physical therapist for a while after your surgery. If you don’t like to drive in bad weather conditions it may be best to schedule your surgery for a time when the sun is shining.
Pick the Right Time for Your Surgery
The bottom line? I recommend scheduling your total knee replacement at the beginning of the year so you can meet your deductibles. This also allows you to get the best post-op care available so you can get back to your normal activities before you know it.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.