Joint School and how it can help if you are waiting for surgery25 August 2021
Joint School is a service specifically for people who are waiting to undergo a hip or knee replacement. It focuses on education and explaining what to expect in preparation for surgery and recovery at home.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Joint School app was developed. This is a free service which provides remote support and information for people waiting for joint replacements.
The app includes blogs, videos and other resources to help you manage your symptoms and look after your wellbeing.
Jane lives with rheumatoid arthritis, and she was fortunate to have her hip replaced last year. Here she tells us about her experiences of Joint School and how it helped her prepare and recover from her operation.
Read about our Impossible to Ignore campaign and how we’re working to make sure all people waiting for surgery have access to the support they need.
“My daily life in the 18 months before my hip replacement became gradually more limited.”
I was experiencing varied levels of hip and knee pain. Sometimes acute jabs of pain but always a dull ache.
This was debilitating because it increased the fatigue, I already experienced with my rheumatoid arthritis, and it made me more cautious in my movements.
I didn’t walk my dog with my family every day because she enjoys a good few miles leg stretch. Instead, I went occasionally when we chose a flat and shorter walk.
I reduced the amount of gardening and hoovering because those tasks were painful, and they caused my knees to swell and my back to ache.
So, I was very glad to go onto a joint replacement waiting list in February 2020, receiving a pre-op assessment and telephone appointments with occupational therapy and admissions.
Then lockdown happened and everything went on hold.
I was extremely surprised to receive an operation date with one week’s notice for early December 2020.
“I'd heard of Joint School from others who’d attended pre hip and knee replacements.”
I didn’t know if Joint School was a nationwide initiative or local to the North-West.
Everyone who has mentioned the service, spoke highly of the opportunity to receive more information to help allay fears, the dos and don’ts that we all need to hear and to have the chance to ask questions.
Lockdown meant that Joint School face to face sessions were not available. I was pleased though to be sent a link to the Joint School app.
By using the app, I have watched YouTube videos with orthopaedic doctors and nurses, anaesthetists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and patients where they share valuable information and advice.
“The app helped to reduce my anxiety level.”
Having the app and leaflets from my hospital consultation prepared me in some way to face the wait.
To quote from the App “Learning about the possible complications and risks can be daunting but forms an important part of your informed consent for any procedure. Informing yourself about these issues can also help to empower you to take an active role in your care – from the planning before surgery to each step of your recovery.”
Also, we all had the chance to send in questions that might be addressed live or answered by the support team.
“I feel the experience changed the balance between a ‘Them and Us’ scenario, to a medical and patient team working together.”
It was helpful to learn more about how exercise can help via the app, as when you are in pain, that can feel counter-intuitive. With lockdown as well, we didn’t have access to pools, gyms and group exercise opportunities. Not to be deterred the app provided exercise videos to follow at home which are upbeat and popular.
Since December I have recovered along the lines described by the professionals on the app and apart from the odd twinge when I over stretch, or an occasional dull ache when I have over done the gardening, walking or housework, I am better than I have been for several years.
I walked three and a half miles last week, climbed a small hill and have spent hours trying to redress some of the neglect in my garden.
I am extremely grateful for my new hip, and I have taken positive steps to continue with an exercise programme which will hopefully in time increase my stamina and mobility levels.
Speak to others living with arthritis on our online community about their experiences of waiting for surgery and recovery.
Find out more about exercising with arthritis and what types of exercises are beneficial for certain conditions.