If you’ve ever suffered a sports injury, you probably consulted with a doctor specializing in sports medicine. Similarly, if your injury was severe (a torn ACL, for example), you’ve likely been referred to an orthopedic surgeon to undergo ACL surgery or reconstruction. But you also know that fixing that torn ligament isn’t the extent of your relationship with your orthopedic surgeon. Experience and knowledge are key, but perhaps more importantly, dedication to your unique case as well as a thorough follow-up and continued support are essential to your long-term well being.
Orthopedic surgeons and doctors specializing in sports medicine aren’t exactly few and far between, so you should have the option of choosing the professional that you feel will work best for you. If you feel that the doctor you’ve been referred to doesn’t readily answer your questions or dismisses your concerns, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask your general practitioner (GP) to refer you to someone else. When it comes to matters such as ACL surgery, it’s not simply a question of getting an operation and being on your way; the injury will have long-lasting effects that will still need to be addressed long after you have healed.
Take the time to speak with your doctor about what is involved during and after the procedure. Make sure you understand what will be done and how to address recovery, and don’t be shy to ask about what other options are available if any course of treatment makes you uneasy or uncomfortable. Your orthopedic surgeon should also take the time to educate you on the long-term effects of your injury and suggest how to best address them. For example, wearing a knee brace in future sports endeavors, performing stretches and special exercises prior to engaging in sports activities, and what to expect during physiotherapy. It is important that you understand that your orthopedic surgeon isn’t simply there to perform your ACL surgery; he or she is intimate with every aspect of the process and a great source of information, support, and encouragement. If your orthopedic surgeon falls short in any of these categories, you’re better off moving on to the next one.
Finally, make sure that your orthopedic surgeon is in constant contact with the other professionals helping in your recovery, such as your GP, sports medicine professional, and physiotherapist. You should feel free to contact your surgeon if you have any questions or concerns about any of the activities that have been prescribed, or about your overall health and recovery. With such a long process ahead of you, it is imperative that you feel at ease with your orthopedic surgeon, because if you aren’t, healing that torn ACL is going to be even harder.