Despite incredible advancements in pain control and anesthetics, many people still fear common medical procedures. Unfortunately, many of the most-feared operations also have the potential to make wonderful, positive changes in your life. Here are some of the most anxiety-producing procedures and some techniques for dealing with the fear.
Dental Drilling or Pulling
Plenty of people can sit through a lengthy cleaning and polishing, but let the drill turn on in the next room and their heart-rate skyrockets and sweat breaks out on their palms. The sound of the drill, for many, represents pain and discomfort. The same can be said for the unnerving feeling of a tooth being extracted. Even if plenty of novocaine is used, many patients will insist they still feel pain. Anti-anxiety techniques such as breathing exercises can help, as can drugs such as Valium. In extremely fearful cases, some patients may opt to be fully anesthetized and asleep during the procedure. Dental work can improve self esteem and keep dangerous infections from forming, so patients and providers should work together to make it possible.
Lasik Eye Surgery
While some people are happy to go through life wearing glasses and suffer no ill effects, others experience nausea, headaches, vomiting and sore ears from glasses. Contacts can bring a whole host of irritations and limitations, as well. Lasik surgery can correct vision to with a half a diopter of perfect for many patients, but the idea of being awake and aware during the operation sends some patients into terrors. While breathing exercises and guided meditation can be helpful, the patient needs to be fully awake and able to follow commands in order to have Lasik done. Perfect or near-perfect vision can be the reward for those willing to overcome their fears.
Elective Orthopedic Joint Replacement
When the cushioning cartilage in a knee or hip wears away, the bones begin to rub together. Not only is this exceedingly painful, but range of motion is affected as well. In the past, people with end-stage joints were left hobbling through life. Now, many qualify to have these arthritic, painful joints replaced. The fear of pain or a bad result can keep patients from consenting to surgery, living in misery unnecessarily. For those who can get counseling to overcome their reticence, a total joint replacement can give them back an active, pain-free life.
Being afraid of certain medical procedures is perfectly natural. However, letting fear stand in the way of seeking treatment can impact a patient’s quality of life for years to come.