As people inch toward retirement age, they often experience pain in joints such as the knee or hip. As the baby boomer generation enters this next phase of life, knee-replacement surgery is becoming an increasingly popular procedure. While orthopedic surgeons have been recommending joint replacements for decades now, it might not always be the best solution.
In some ways, a joint-replacement surgery appears to utilize expert carpentry skills: The process isn’t for the faint of heart. The surgical carpenters show great prowess in removing damaged surfaces and switching them out with metal prosthetic replacements.
Following the surgery, an intensive program of rehabilitation begins. Many patients remain in the rehab wing of the hospital for over a week following their surgeries. During that time, they work to regain their strength and general mobility. Of course, patients who started out physically fit have easier recoveries and far more positive results.
If you’re in line for joint-replacement surgery, one way you can help set yourself up for prompt recovery and successful rehabilitation is to lose as much weight as would be healthy and work to strengthen your legs and hips before the surgery takes place.
If you’re experiencing joint pain and getting to be around retirement age, you may have friends and close relatives who have had joint-replacement surgeries, and you may be wondering if you’d be a good candidate for one, yourself. Even if you’re experiencing pain, surgery might not be the best answer for your situation.
In fact, surgery should be the last resort, something to be considered only after all other possible treatment options have been attempted. Such alternative treatments include these:
- Injections of cortisone or “Syn-Visc”
- Physical therapy
- Weight loss
These methods can help you to delay or even avoid the need for surgery, and an orthopedic surgeon worth his salt will present you with these options.
Part of the reason it’s in your best interest to at least try to delay having joint-replacement surgery is that the results will likely last only about 15 years: The replacement parts aren’t nearly as durable as the originals provided by nature. That means that the younger you succumb to this kind of surgery, the more likely it is that you’ll have to have it again.
While pain of any sort is bothersome, joint-replacement surgery is recommended only when the pain is severe enough to prevent you from doing daily tasks. While some surgeons will gladly perform this surgery to alleviate even minor discomfort, they do their patients a disservice, in the long run.
Even if you meet all the criteria for being a prime candidate for knee-replacement or hip-replacement surgery, you’ll likely second-guess your decision throughout the first three or four months following the surgery. However, when it comes time for the surgery’s one-year anniversary, you’ll probably be glad.
PhysioDC of Washington, D.C.
Daniel Baumstark and his professional team of physical therapists, physical trainers & nutritionists operate a boutique physical therapy office in downtown Washington, D.C. From athletes to government officials, and from ballerinas to corporate executives, PhysioDC helps people recover, strengthen and return to healthy living. Visit their website for more information.
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