Home FAQS

How do I make an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist in Alberta?

Your family doctor must refer you to an orthopaedic specialist.

Most patients in Alberta who need to see an orthopaedic surgeon for a hip or knee problem are referred to a Hip and Knee Clinic. The clinic will schedule an appointment with a surgeon.

How do I find out where I am on the waiting list for a consultation or surgery?

You should contact the orthopaedic specialist or surgeon directly to find out how long the wait will be.
If your consultation or surgery is being managed through a Hip and Knee Clinic, you should contact the clinic about the waiting period.

Can ABJHI help me to get a consultation with a specialist?

ABJHI does not provide services of any type directly to patients. Your family doctor will refer you to a specialist. If you need a consultation for a hip or knee problem, you will most likely be referred to a Hip and Knee Clinic. The clinic will schedule an appointment with a surgeon.

Can ABJHI help me with my medical problems?

ABJHI does not provide services directly to patients. Contact your family doctor or specialist if you need help with a medical problem.

Can ABJHI help me to get an earlier surgery date?

ABJHI does not schedule surgery and does not manage wait lists for surgeons.

What will I experience if I have my hip or knee replaced in Alberta?

Here are key steps along Alberta’s provincial care path for patients:

  • Patient begins medical journey with visit to family physician.
  • Family physician refers patient to Hip and Knee Clinic.
  • Multidisciplinary team in clinic determines, in consultation with patient, the best treatment plan, such as physiotherapy, medication, surgery, lifestyle change or a combination of these.

  • If surgery is not needed, multidisciplinary team develops a customized treatment plan and sends copy of plan to patient's family physician.
  • If surgery is needed, a Case Manager is assigned to patient. Case Manager assembles required care team – surgeon, other physicians as required, nurses, therapists and educators – to deliver individualized care, prepare patient for surgery and recovery period, and guide patient through rehabilitation.

  • Patient and care team enter into agreement specifying what each party must do to achieve optimal results from surgery. Example: patient commits to stop smoking and lose weight prior to surgery. Care Team commits to coaching patient to prepare for surgery and meet goals.
  • Surgery, education, therapy and follow-up scheduled.
  • Care Team works as unit through entire patient journey to share case information and deliver optimal care.

What are the warning signs of rheumatoid arthritis?

The Arthritis Society advises seeing your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:

  • You start to feel unusual pain and stiffness in your joints. Look for swelling of the wrists, knuckles or small joints of the fingers or toes, including the ball of the foot.
  • You feel pain and stiffness in the morning, typically lasting more than 30-60 minutes before you "loosen up" and start feeling better.

What should I do if I think I have rheumatoid arthritis?

You should see your family doctor about your symptoms. Your family doctor will refer you to a rheumatologist if rheumatoid arthritis is suspected. It is important to see a rheumatologist as soon as possible. Early treatment and control of rheumatoid arthritis can avert significant or permanent damage to the joints and improve your long-term outcomes.

How does ABJHI collect the patient information it needs to measure health care performance and what does it do to protect the privacy of the information?

ABJHI has agreements with individual orthopaedic surgeons and Alberta Health Services to analyze patient information from their records.

All of the patient information we collect is subject to the provisions in Alberta's Health Information Act and Personal Information Protection Act. ABJHI handles all patient information according to the protocols and practices stipulated in a Privacy Impact Assessment approved by Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner. These practices and protocols ensure patient information is handled and stored securely. All of the patient information we share with our partners is stripped of any identification and aggregated to ensure it remains absolutely private. Furthermore, any research-related work is subject to review by a Research Ethics Board to ensure the dignity, rights, integrity and well-being of participants will be protected, they will be treated fairly, and their free and informed consent will be given prior to the start of the research.

Who is ABJHI accountable to?

ABJHI is accountable primarily to Albertans as it carries out its work, and to those who fund our work.

Who funds ABJHI’s work?

ABJHI’s funding comes from service contracts, philanthropy, grants from foundations and programs.

ABJHI puts a great deal of emphasis on evidence-based health care. How can I determine whether the treatment proposed by my care provider is evidence-based?

Ask your health care provider about the evidence for the treatment being proposed. But keep in mind that differences among patients mean medical professionals, in addition to considering the evidence, must make judgments about what will and will not work for each patient. Their judgment, together with the evidence, is essential to producing good outcomes.

It is important, therefore, to ask not only about the evidence for the treatment being proposed but also about the medical judgments being made in choosing the treatment path.

Where does ABJHI find the evidence it uses when designing care paths?

ABJHI searches the world for the best and latest evidence. We also help generate new evidence by supporting provincial clinical and basic science research projects and by evaluating new approaches to bone and joint health care in Alberta.

Peer-reviewed journals and organizations such as the Arthritis Society, the Arthritis Alliance of Canada. the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health are reliable sources of health information.

My hip joints need to be replaced. Can I get both joints replaced at the same time?

It is possible to have both hip joints replaced at the same time. Whether you should do this, however, depends on your particular circumstances and physical and medical conditions.

Having both hips replaced at the same time could significantly reduce your mobility after surgery. Since early mobility – getting up and moving around as soon as possible after surgery – is known to be highly beneficial, a significant delay or reduction can have negative consequences. In addition, a double-hip replacement will mean a longer recovery period and you will require more support while recovering at home.

Your options should be discussed with the team of health care providers assigned to your case. In determining whether the ‘both-at-once’ approach is best, your health care team will take into account your medical and physical conditions, and will want to know about your day-to-day living circumstances and the reasons you would like to have both hips replaced at the same time. They will work with you to develop a plan that is suited to your individual circumstances and needs.

My knee joints need to be replaced. Can I get both joints replaced at the same time?

It is possible to have both knees replaced at the same time but a double-knee replacement is rarely done in Alberta. Whether you should do this depends on your particular circumstances and physical and medical conditions.

Having both knees replaced at the same time will significantly reduce your mobility after surgery. Since early mobility – getting up and moving around as soon as possible after surgery – is know to be highly beneficial, a significant delay or reduction can have negative consequences. In addition, a double-knee replacement will mean a longer recovery period and you will require significantly more support while recovering at home.

Your options should be discussed with the team of health care providers assigned to your case. In determining whether the ‘both-at-once’ approach is best, your health care team will take into account your medical and physical conditions, and will want to know about your day-to-day living circumstances and the reasons you would like to have both knees replaced at the same time. They will work with you to develop a plan that is suited to your individual circumstances and needs.

What types of hip replacement surgery are available?

There are three types of hip replacement surgery: total hip joint replacement and hip resurfacing.

Total hip replacement:

Involves removing the entire head of the femur (thigh bone), a portion of the femur neck, the surface layer of the hip socket in the pelvic bone, and damaged cartilage. The head and neck of the femur are replaced with a ball and stem. This stem fits into the shaft of the femur as an anchor and is cemented or press-fit into the bone. A liner is placed in the socket.

Partial hip replacement:

A partial hip replacement may be performed if damage or disease is limited to just one part of the hip joint. The components used are similar to those used in total hip replacement.

Hip resurfacing:

A more recently developed technique, hip resurfacing is designed to conserve bone. A liner is placed in the socket as in a total hip replacement, but only the disease-damaged surfaces of the femur head are removed. The head of the femur is resurfaced and capped with a smooth metal covering, sparing the remaining portion of the head and the femoral neck. The metal head and metal liner in the sock form a metal-on-metal surface in the hip. This procedure is known as metal-on-metal hip resurfacing.

Read Your Guide to Hip Replacement

What types of knee replacement surgery are available?

There are two types of knee replacement surgery: total knee replacement and partial knee replacement.

Total knee replacement:

Involves replacing the end of the femur (thigh bone) and the end of the tibia (lower leg bone) with metal and plastic components. If the rear surface of the patella (kneecap) is also damaged, it will be removed and replaced with a polyethylene button.

Partial knee replacement:

Also called unicompartmental knee replacement, this is an option when damage from arthritis is limited to only one side of the knee.

Read Your Guide to Knee Replacement

What is revision surgery on a joint?

Revision surgery is performed when the parts used to replace a joint have become damaged or loose and have to be replaced with new ones.

How long will I be unable to work following surgery?

When you return to work will depend on how well and how quickly you heal, the kind of work you do, and the medications you must take while recovering. For example, someone who has had a knee or hip replacement will likely be able to return to a desk job sooner than someone who lifts or pushes heavy objects. Your surgeon will tell you when it is safe to return to the type of work you do.

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