May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the orthopedic surgeons at ProOrtho care about spreading awareness of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions to help you live your life pain-free. Mental health is directly linked to orthopedic and physical health and can affect the outcomes of surgery.
Injuries are a reality of sports and every day activities. Not only do they cause physical harm, but injuries are often an emotional experience that can become a significant mental burden. It is common to feel temporary sadness, anger or frustration after an injury. Sometimes people also feel isolated and can feel grief over loss of activities. There is no single expected response; each may differ and fluctuate from the time an injury occurs to post-injury, rehabilitation, and full recovery. While these responses aren’t unusual, they can become a cause for concern if they persist, worsen, or are excessively severe.
Athletes may face additional mental obstacles – loss of identity due to being unable to participate fully in their sport, or feeling they should “tough out” mental challenges as they do physical ones. In addition, fear of additional injury or reinjury can affect return to play. Part of sports medicine is working to break the stigma surrounding mental health services for athletes.
Mental and emotional health also plays an important role in recovering from surgery. This has been shown in spine surgery, joint replacement, fractures, ACL reconstruction and rotator cuff repair. Patients with anxiety, depression, poor coping skills and little social support are less likely to improve after surgery while patients with strong emotional health are likely to have significant improvement after surgery.
Everyone can benefit from understanding the common symptoms and warning signs of mental health conditions, and being aware of the resources available to provide treatment. In addition, it is important to optimize mental and emotional health as well as social support prior to surgery. The physicians at ProOrtho are committed to helping patients get the care they need to optimize their recovery and quality of life.