Surgery

Taking an anticlotting drug? If you need a procedure, be prepared

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

People who take an anticlotting medication are at higher risk of bleeding if they need an invasive procedure, but stopping the drug ahead of a procedure carries its own risks.

Too many pain pills after surgery: When good intentions go awry

Scott Weiner, MD
Scott Weiner, MD, Contributor

The opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect on lives. There are many factors behind this crisis, some of which may be surprising. A reasonable and well-intentioned effort to reduce and relieve pain can inadvertently lead to a potentially life-threatening addiction, but there are some surprisingly simple ways to avoid such scenarios.

Knee replacement: Life changing or a disappointment?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Osteoarthritis, the “wear and tear” form of arthritis, can cause pain and restricted movement in the joints. Joint replacement surgery (typically for knees and hips) can restore mobility and reduce pain. However, these procedures involve risk, recovery and rehabilitation time, and the joint may still not feel completely normal. However, for some, surgery may improve quality of life and be better than the alternatives.

Physical therapy after hip replacement: Can rehab happen at home?

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Hip replacement surgery is becoming increasingly common. After this type of surgery, people are required to undergo rehab to help them become stronger and steadier with their new joint. Traditionally, this has involved lots of back-and-forth to physical therapy appointments. But a new study suggests that many people may be able to do their exercises at home instead — with nearly identical results.

Healing through music

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Music therapists are trained and certified to help patients in many ways. Research suggests that music therapy is more than just a nice perk. It can offer real benefits in reducing pain, anxiety, and improving quality of life for people with dementia.

Is it hard to decide about total knee replacement? Totally!

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

If arthritis in your knee means you can’t do everything you want, whether that’s walking the dog or playing a game of tennis, you may be considering a knee replacement. But are the benefits “as advertised”? A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests that they may be, but it’s more important to weigh the risks and benefits with your personal preferences in mind.