Do I Really Need Surgery?

Do I really need surgery?

Boy, this is a question most, if not all, of us will face at some point over the course of our journey with rheumatoid arthritis. I have had many sleepless nights pondering this question.  Thanks to a great deal of research, consultation, and reflecting, I can say that I have zero regrets in terms of my surgical decisions, up till now.  I can only hope it continues through some of the ones I am now facing.

Surgery as an option for rheumatoid arthritis

There is much to consider when deciding if surgery is the right response to an issue. First of all, is it the one and only answer?  If the response to that is yes, then you go down the road of yes, gathering all you need to know about how best to position yourself for the most positive outcome. In some respects, this is the most direct and definitive path.

Sometimes the answer isn't so clear

If, however, surgery is not the only answer, just one of several options, then the decision-making process is more complex and demanding. The first item to contemplate is if you are even open to surgery as a choice. Some folks I know will do anything to avoid surgery.  For them, that may mean exploring all other possibilities, no matter if surgery rises to the top as the best choice or not.

What are my outcomes with or without surgery

If surgery is one of several options, you should spend some considerable time with your care team reviewing the outcomes depending on which path you take.  Will surgery mean a better long-term outcome or is it too risky?  Are the other options viable long-term or will they suffice for long enough to make you more comfortable with surgery down the road?  Will it make the surgery more complicated to delay it or is there no impact by holding off for a while?

Once you decide that you WILL consider surgery, then you can begin to look at all the parameters of that choice.  What are all of the outcomes possible, the various success AND failure rates, how will it impact my treatment protocols, etc.?

Possible surgery for my rheumatoid arthritis

Right now, I am facing a surgical repair that may mean going off of my medications for up to a month.  Not only am I reluctant to do that, I actually do not think it is necessary. However, I am having to go between the surgeon and my rheumatologist to get to a place we can all agree on. 

I think we will get there, but it is stressful and there is no guarantee either way. That is something I have never faced before and so knowing there may be additional aspects to consider is an essential piece of knowledge to have when going through this surgery process. That I know for sure. 

Flares and going off of RA medication for surgery

Beyond that, I am still working through the other aspects. Flaring on top of recovering from the surgery itself seems like a poor choice to me. Also, I have had many surgeries in the past, without going off my medications for more than 2 weeks. I have never had an issue. 

Now, does that mean I am just lucky and that this time could be the one that presents a complication because of being on the medications?  Of course, that could be the case. But we must weigh all of the options and risks, look at past experiences, do research, and then decide.

Make an informed decision for your health

Consulting with everyone involved, from your medical team to your personal care team, is crucial. That said, it ultimately resides with you whether to pursue a surgical response or not. 

Most importantly, if you can say with confidence that you have examined all of the options, and are content with your choice, then you have done your best and you can move forward knowing you are just where you should be in your journey.


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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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