For older adults, it is important to see an orthopedic specialist at the first sign of joint trouble. For example, if you are experiencing knee or hip pain for three or more days and it does not seem to be improving, a consultation may help determine the cause. If you experience joint pain for short periods of time but frequently, this is also an indication that you should schedule an appointment. The earlier a joint issue is discovered, the earlier treatment can begin through joint preservation.
What is Joint Preservation?
There are several ways that your orthopedic specialist can help keep your joints from deteriorating further, eventually leading to a joint replacement. A joint replacement is only a last resort in cases of advanced deterioration. In most cases, if weakening cartilage and bone in the joints is diagnosed early enough, minor treatments can keep you from needing major surgery. These are only a few of the treatments that orthopedic specialists use in joint preservation:
- Cartilage Transplant
- Stem Cell Therapy
- Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy
Are You a Candidate for Joint Preservation Treatments?
There are several factors that your doctor will take into consideration when determining if joint preservation treatment would work well, or if it would be better to replace the joint. As a specialist, they can determine the best course of action so you can regain your mobility with the least amount of stress as possible.
Younger patients typically respond much better to joint preservation treatments. If these treatments are started when they are younger and the joint deterioration is just beginning, they may be able to avoid a joint replacement altogether. However, for older patients that may already have quite a bit of damage in the joint, it may be easier on you to consider a replacement.
Type of Joint
Treatments to preserve the joint for as long as possible work much better on the knees. This can be due to diagnosing the joint issues earlier. Patients are more likely to realize and complain of knee pain than they are hip or shoulder pain, for example. While many joint preservation techniques are now being used quite often for hip pain and deterioration, there still are not very many options for shoulders. Depending on the deteriorating joints, your doctor may suggest treatment or replacement.
Strength & Flexibility
The stronger and more flexible you are, the easier it will be for you and your orthopedic specialist to preserve your joints. While your doctor can use the latest treatments, you can make them more effective by staying active. Keeping to an exercise routine like going on evening walks, enjoying yoga or Pilates in the morning or making the most out of a gym membership will increase the effectiveness of your doctor’s efforts, making joint preservation a much more likely choice.
Not only will staying active help the treatments work more effectively, but losing weight can help as well. It is estimated that for each pound you lose, you will take three to five pounds of weight off your hips, knees and ankles. If you think about it, losing just 10 pounds can reduce the weight on your knees by up to 50 pounds. If you and your doctor feel that an exercise and diet regimen can help you lose weight, making joint preservation more effective, your doctor is more likely to recommend it.
Like we mentioned above, joint replacement surgery is saved for the most severe cases of joint deterioration. If there is no cartilage left in the joint, if there is bone-to-bone contact or if the bones themselves are becoming weak, then a joint replacement is likely the best option.
If you have been experiencing joint pain and you think you may be a candidate for joint preservation treatment, call Silicon Valley Orthopedics at our Fremont, CA, office today to schedule a consultation.