Trends that will shape orthopedic surgery post-pandemic

Alan Condon -   Print  |
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Enhanced joint pain from patients who delayed care, site-of-care changes and increased musculoskeletal problems related to inefficient work-from-home environments are some of the key trends expected to play out in orthopedics post-pandemic.

It's no secret that many patients delayed treatment for musculoskeletal issues such as knee and hip replacements because of fears of contracting COVID-19 over the last year. It's estimated that more than 1 million spine and orthopedic surgeries are backlogged in the U.S .

Orthopedists are also noting an increase in musculoskeletal problems from people who have been working from home during the pandemic.

"An increase in sedentary lifestyles, as more people work and study from home, is giving rise to an increase in musculoskeletal problems, including neck and back pain," said Rajiv Taliwal, MD, spine surgeon and chief of staff at Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center in Akron, Ohio. "Poor ergonomics in the home office setting, as well as extended periods of time looking at our devices and screens, are likely contributing factors."

More patients will seek treatment for these conditions at outpatient settings, where orthopedic procedures have been steadily migrating for years. The pandemic greatly accelerated this trend.

Some patients are still reluctant to receive care at hospitals due to concerns of contracting COVID-19, and CMS and commercial payers are pushing more procedures to the ASC, a lower cost, more specialized site of care.

"We are also seeing more complex orthopaedic and reconstructive procedures being performed in an outpatient setting, which is advantageous to patients and payers," said Gordon Bennett, MD, a foot and ankle surgeon and chair of Crystal Clinic's board of directors. 

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