What Should You Do if Your Orthopedic Surgery Gets Delayed?

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of elective orthopedic surgeries have been delayed or backlogged. While having an elective surgery delayed isn't a matter of life and death, it can be discouraging. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to keep yourself relatively healthy and comfortable until your surgery can be rescheduled.

Listen to Your Doctor

First of all, speak with your doctor about a healthcare and exercise plan. You most likely did this when you discussed your surgery in the first place, but it's always your best course of action. Your doctor can give you advice on how to manage pain and mobility issues in the weeks leading up to your surgery, even if that surgery is delayed.

Limit Your Activities

While you shouldn't resign yourself to being completely sedentary, you should still limit your activities if they are too painful or too difficult. You're already waiting longer than you planned for surgery; you don't want to make things worse by suffering an additional injury or aggravating what is already there.

Avoid participating in activities that are too painful, and use a mobility aid such as a cane or a walker if you have issues with your hips or knees. You can and should engage in simple exercises to increase your range of motion and speed up your recovery, but never attempt more than you think you can do.

Apply Heat or Ice

If your issue involves a sprain, applying an ice pack to the affected area can help reduce swelling. If your injury is recent, apply an ice pack for 10 minutes at a time every hour that you are awake for the first 72 hours. After that, you can apply ice as needed for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

Meanwhile, pain caused by arthritis can be alleviated by applying a heating pad for 20 to 30 minutes at a time two or three times a day.

Take Over-the-Counter Medications

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen that can help reduce pain and swelling. They can be picked up at any drug store, so keep some on hand at all times. Topical anesthetic creams can also be helpful.

Talk to Your Doctor about Corticosteroid Injections

In some cases, a corticosteroid injection to an arthritic joint can help reduce pain and inflammation. Talk to your doctor about this option if you have to wait for your surgery.


Having to wait for elective orthopedic surgery can be distressing, but it isn't the end of the world as long as you follow your doctor's advice and keep these tips in mind. If you have any questions about your upcoming surgery or you need some advice on managing your pain and mobility issues, you can always contact Dr. Matthew D. Barber, M.D. Dr. Barber serves patients in Mobile, AL, and he and his staff will be happy to give you a consultation!

While Dr. Barber focuses exclusively on the management of knee and hip problems with a focus on joint replacement procedures, he is proud to be a source of information for patients and has several specialist partners at ALABAMA ORTHOPAEDIC CLINIC who are available to treat any orthopedic condition.