As a physical therapist who has been under the knife several times with different doctors, I will be the first to tell you that having the right surgeon plays a huge role on your final outcome. I know I am not alone when I recall following up with the doctor six months after surgery and hear the disheartening, “We may need to go in and do another procedure.” Although I’m in the profession, I can admit that in the long run, it’s best to have a great surgeon perform a great surgery, and then have an average therapist follow a rehab plan half-heartedly, than the other way around.

I have witnessed both good and bad when it comes to surgery as both a patient and a provider. No matter what you read, surgery is not an exact science. With technology and research, it is getting closer and closer, but unfortunately no two human beings are the same. That means age, wear and tear, and body type are going to influence not only what should be done when that orthopedic surgeon looks inside that knee, but also how he or she should be doing it.

Imagine the pressure of what is going on in that operating room. Anyone who thinks performing surgery is an easy job should go online just to watch how intricate many of the minimally invasive procedures are these days. Every doctor knows that the future of the person lying on that table is ultimately in their hands. Cut just a little too much here or there, or forget about one area, and the outcome will not be optimal, no matter how much time and effort spent in therapy.

Surgery is like art. Certainly anyone who puts the time in school and training can do it but there are clearly those who are gifted and able to see things in such a way that others just can’t. A great surgeon is able to get subjective data from the patient and take the objective measurements to create a care plan that will lead them to their desired outcome. In the days of managed care, much of the subjective data is glossed over, as surgeons have to deal with reimbursement cuts like everyone else in healthcare.

When you are faced with having surgery, do your homework. Try to talk to other people who have had similar procedures by that doctor. Educate yourself on what injury you may have and what your treatment options are. There are times when surgery may not be your best option, and the best surgeons will have no difficulty telling you that. I’ve met and worked with many orthopedic surgeons over the years, and the ones who stand out are the ones who not only take the time to explain what procedure you can expect and why, but who also give a realistic prognosis of what you can expect afterwards. Remember, a great surgeon will give you great results when you are committed to the rehabilitation process.

Yours in health,

Keith Pacific