Joint Replacement Archive


Taming tendinitis in the knee

Tendons are the bands of fibrous tissue that attach muscle to bone. Tendinitis — tendon inflammation — is often a repetitive strain injury. You get it by repeating the same motion over and over, which irritates the tendon. Joints commonly affected by tendinitis include the elbow, heel, and wrist.

Weekend warriors (folks who engage in high-intensity activities such as running or basketball on the weekend but do little to maintain conditioning during the week) often develop tendinitis in the knees. Simply being overweight can also contribute to knee tendinitis. Age is another risk factor. Over time, tendons become less flexible and the involved muscles lose strength, both of which further stress the tendons. Inflexible hamstring and quadricep muscles make you more susceptible as well.

6 signs that it may be time to have a joint replaced

An ailing knee or a hip can make life miserable. Even if your doctor recommends it be replaced, you need to carefully weigh the risks and benefits before agreeing to this major surgery and understand that it will require significant rehabilitation to get back on your feet.

The most important factor in choosing to have a knee or hip replaced is how much it hurts and how much it is affecting your life. Here are six signals that it's time to have a knee or hip replaced:

Simple tips to protect your joints

Medical professionals are an important part of managing arthritis. For example, your doctor can make sure you're taking the right medications, and physical or occupational therapists can help you find safe and effective ways to exercise and modify your daily activities. But ultimately, the day-to-day work of managing your arthritis falls to you.

One way you can be active in managing your arthritis is by adapting your daily routine to relieve pressure on your joints. The following techniques can help you avoid stiffness and lighten the burden on your joints.

Surgery-free pain relief for hips and knees

Hip and knee pain can keep you from the activities you love, as well as make routine tasks difficult. But there are many ways to get you moving again pain-free, without surgery. Here are some of the treatments that can help relieve hip and knee pain.

Ultrasound, phonophoresis, and iontophoresis

Therapeutic ultrasound is a simple procedure that uses sound waves to increase blood flow, relax muscle spasms, and aid healing that leads to faster hip pain relief and knee pain relief. The therapist applies gel to your skin and moves an ultrasound wand over your skin around the painful area. In a special ultrasound technique called phonophoresis, medication (often hydrocortisone) is added to the gel. In a survey of orthopedic physical therapists, more than half said they would use ultrasound and phonophoresis to reduce soft-tissue inflammation (in tendinitis or bursitis, for example). These techniques are also used to manage pain, heal tissue, and help muscles stretch.

Before you consider a joint replacement-what you need to know

Image: Thinkstock

How to decide on surgery and get the best outcome from your new joint.

By the summer of 2013, Joan Chiverton had endured nearly three years of knee pain. She'd had enough. "I love to walk and I'm a very active person, and I'd have to stop after every couple of blocks and take a break," says Chiverton, an illustrator who lives in New York City.

Exercise may help delay hip replacement

Photo: Thinkstock

Staying active builds muscle strength and improves flexibility and mobility. Now, a study in the November 2013 Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases finds an exercise regimen might even help you avoid hip replacement surgery. Researchers in Norway tested out an exercise therapy program in a group of 109 people with osteoarthritis of the hip. Participants were randomly assigned to a program of exercise therapy plus education about hip osteoarthritis, or education only for 12 weeks. Over six years of follow-up, 40% of people in the exercise therapy group needed to have a total hip replacement, compared with 57% in the education-only group. Exercisers who did need surgery were able to wait more than five years before having the procedure, compared with just three-and-a-half years in the other group. The researchers note that their study included only people with mild-to-moderate hip osteoarthritis, so the results don't apply to those with more severe symptoms, whose pain may not allow them to wait for surgery.

Avoiding knee or hip surgery

Losing weight, strengthening muscles, and increasing flexibility may help you stave off joint replacement.

You may be putting off a doctor visit to address knee or hip osteoarthritis because you believe it will end with joint replacement surgery, but that's not always the case. "Exercise and weight loss are actually the first line of defense," says Dr. Eric Berkson, director of the Sports Performance Center at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "It may help prevent the pain and prevent surgery."

New ways to beat osteoarthritis pain

Just over the horizon, therapies are being developed to relieve osteoarthritis. But there's a lot you can do to feel better today.

There's a 50-50 chance that, at some point in your life, you'll develop osteoarthritis (OA). Not great odds, considering how much this joint condition can hamper your activity.

How to get ready for a new knee

To speed your recovery and return to daily activities as soon as possible, start your rehab before surgery.

This year, an estimated 600,000 people, 35% of whom are men, will receive a new knee. And why not? By replacing a joint ravaged by osteoarthritis—the leading reason people have implants—you can return to a level of physical functioning and freedom that you have not enjoyed for years.

News briefs: Total knee replacements on the rise, despite high costs

The amount of total knee replacements in the United States has more than doubled since 1991. This may reflect an expanding pool of older adults and a desire to maintain a more active lifestyle that is possible only if arthritic knees are replaced.

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