Nearly a quarter of all adults in the United States live with chronic, debilitating joint pain that often requires joint replacement surgery.1 Despite the significant impact this pain can have on quality of life, many people wait years before moving forward with a procedure – and in the meantime, they endure significant pain that limits mobility and holds them back from doing even daily functional activities. This has only been made worse because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented stress and upheaval that most have faced this year.
In a time when millions of Americans are already worried about exposure to the coronavirus, it’s no surprise that many have chosen to put off elective surgical procedures. In fact, a recent survey by Wakefield Research and commissioned by a leading medical device company Zimmer Biomet, showed that 48% of the Americans surveyed who are candidates for joint replacement procedures postponed treatment since the beginning of the pandemic because of fears related to COVID-19.2
As hospitals have been able to implement new safety measures to conduct these important joint replacement surgeries, many healthcare professionals are now encouraging patients to consider moving forward with their joint replacement surgeries.3 To help people make an informed decision, Zimmer Biomet recently launched Don’t Let Pain Gain On You, an educational resource aimed at informing and empowering those living with joint pain to consider moving ahead with joint replacement surgery in partnership with their healthcare professional.
“Even with the pandemic, patients should know that they can still address chronic, debilitating joint pain through joint replacement surgery,” said Trevor Pickering,* MD, an orthopedic surgeon. “In my opinion, putting off surgery could increase risks to your long-term health and quality of life and it’s worth having a conversation with your doctor on if it might be riskier to wait on surgery.”
Delaying joint replacement procedures can cause increased pain and reduce quality of life for people who are already struggling. In a Gallup survey, 55% of adult joint replacement candidates said that they are held back from enjoying a normal life due to severe joint pain, with symptoms like decreased mobility and trouble sleeping.4 Most alarmingly, according to Zimmer Biomet’s survey, 71% of those surveyed indicated that their pain had increased since delaying a procedure due to COVID-19.2
Becky D., a mother and grandmother from Warsaw, Indiana who has had two joint surgeries since the pandemic hit, understood all too well the limitations that came from living with joint pain.
“Suffering from joint pain holds you back in more ways than you may even realize. Simple tasks such as walking upstairs or getting comfortable in bed were difficult for me. It got to the point where I couldn’t carry holiday decorations upstairs from the basement without experiencing pain,” said Becky. “When decorating for the holidays became too hard on my body, I knew it was time for knee replacements.”
The first of two knee replacement surgeries that Becky would need was scheduled for March, just as the reality of the pandemic set in for most Americans. While she had concerns, Becky had a conversation with her doctor during which they decided together that it was the right choice for Becky to move forward with the procedures.
“The decision whether or not to move forward with joint replacement surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic might be difficult for many. With the help of my doctor’s care and encouragement about the potential benefits of the surgery, it was an easy decision for me,” adds Becky. “I had a positive experience with my two knee replacement surgeries amidst COVID-19. I was well taken care of and most importantly felt safe and protected.”
As local health authorities have allowed elective procedures like joint replacements to resume, many people like Becky are faced with a decision about moving forward with their own surgeries.5 For these individuals, it’s important to have an informed conversation with a doctor about how local hospitals and other healthcare professionals have adapted additional measures to minimize the risk of COVID-19.
Even before the pandemic, technological innovations have been introduced to help surgeons with accurate placement of implants. For instance, new robotics solutions like the ROSA®** Knee Robot from Zimmer Biomet help specially trained surgeons to tailor the placement of the knee implant based on an individual’s anatomy, and some procedures are now even routine enough to be performed in an outpatient center with no overnight stay required.6
There are also digital communications platforms available for people preparing for and recovering from joint replacement, such as mymobility® with Apple Watch® digital care management platform,*** a tool that uses iPhone® and Apple Watch to allow surgeons to communicate with and instruct qualified patients**** pre- and post-surgery. Surgeons can check in on their patients in real-time and patients can have peace-of-mind knowing that their recovery is being supported by medical professionals even as they rehabilitate at home.
While many Americans have delayed their joint replacement procedures since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, those who have moved forward have tended to be positive about the experience. An overwhelming majority (82%) of those surveyed who went forward with a joint replacement procedure during COVID-19 said that they felt safe despite the pandemic.2
“I am so happy that I moved forward with my knee replacements, despite the unique circumstances,” says Becky. “Since my two knee replacements, I can go up and down the stairs without pain — even when I’m carrying holiday decorations. I encourage anyone who is living in pain to work with their doctor to learn about their options and take the next step towards addressing discomfort.”
Candidates for joint replacement should equip themselves with the knowledge and information they need to have an informed conversation with their doctor. For those who are faced with this choice, DontLetPainGain.com provides a wealth of valuable information to help you address your joint pain, including tools and digital resources, and information to help you prepare for joint surgery.
*Dr. Pickering is a paid consultant of Zimmer Biomet
**Results are not necessarily typical, indicative, or representative of all recipient patients. Results will vary due to health, weight, activity and other variables. Not all patients are candidates for this product and/or procedure. Only a medical professional can determine the treatment appropriate for your specific condition. Appropriate post-operative activities and restrictions will differ from patient to patient. Talk to your surgeon about whether joint replacement is right for you and the risks of the procedure, including the risk of implant wear, infection, loosening, breakage or failure, any of which could require additional surgery.
As the manufacturer of medical devices, Zimmer Biomet does not practice medicine. All questions concerning your diagnosis and treatment options must be directed to your doctor. All content herein is protected by copyright, trademarks and other intellectual property rights, as applicable, owned by or licensed to Zimmer Biomet or its affiliates unless otherwise indicated, and must not be redistributed, duplicated or disclosed, in whole or in part, without the express written consent of Zimmer Biomet. ©2020 Zimmer Biomet.
***iPhone and Apple Watch are trademarks of Apple, Inc., registered in the US and other countries. Patients must have a compatible iPhone to use the mymobility mobile app; not all patients are suitable for therapy at home.
****mymobility can only be used if prescribed by a surgeon for patients with a compatible smartphone deemed appropriate for remote care.
 United States Bone and Joint Initiative. The Burden of Musculoskeletal Diseases in the United States. Available at: https://www.boneandjointburden.org/2014-report/ib2/chronic-joint-pain.
 Wakefield. Zimmer Biomet Joint Replacement Patient and Caregiver U.S. Perception Survey. September 2020.
 American College of Surgeons. COVID-19: Executive Orders by State on Dental, Medical, and Surgical Procedures. Available at: https://www.facs.org/covid-19/legislative-regulatory/executive-orders.
 Gallup. The 2017 Gallup Study of Joint Replacement Surgical Candidates. May 2017.
 American College of Radiology. States With Elective Medical Procedures Guidance in Effect (Updated May 18, 2020). Available at: https://www.acr.org/-/media/ACR/Files/COVID19/States-With-Elective-Medical-Procedures-Guidance-in-Effect.pdf.
 Zimmer Biomet. ROSA® Knee System. Available at: https://www.zimmerbiomet.com/patients-caregivers/knee/robotics-technology.html.