Tips for Living with Arthritis and Without Pain
When you live with arthritis, it’s a constant battle between an active lifestyle and pain. The Arizona summer months invite mountain bikers, swimmers and runners to its outdoor play land, but swelling, inflammation, stiffness and tenderness may cloud one’s ability to take part in activities previously enjoyed. Arthritis is a common title given to describe various forms of joint pain caused by age, genetics, weight and injury.
“There is nothing you can do specifically to prevent arthritis — it’s most commonly caused by joint wear and tear that’s part of the natural aging process. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be active. Joints need to be used to stay healthy. Furthermore, joint pain can be addressed, while serious conditions from a sedentary lifestyle can be much more difficult to treat,” said Jimmy Chow, M.D., a double-fellowship-trained hip and knee specialist on the medical staff at St. Luke’s Medical Center.
The conflicting desire to be healthy and manage arthritis can be challenging and discouraging. Some physical pain can be expected when exercising, but it’s important to pay attention to recurring pain and to seek medical attention early on.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 435,000 Americans undergo hip and knee replacement surgery annually. “Restoring cartilage, replacing cartilage or correcting a bone deformity can positively enhance a person’s quality of life, and surgical intervention is often necessary,” said Dr. Chow.
Dr. Chow performs the micro-invasive hip replacement and robotic knee resurfacing procedures, SuperPATH and MAKOplasty. SuperPATH, a tissue-preserving hip replacement procedure, is performed with minimal damage to surrounding muscles, tendons or ligaments. Instead of dislocating the hip during surgery, the SuperPATH approach builds the tools and implants inside the body. This shortens recovery time and markedly reduces the risk of post-operative dislocation, the most common complication of hip replacement. “Many of my patients go back to recreational activities, such as yoga, without motion restrictions,” said Dr. Chow.
MAKOplasty, a partial knee resurfacing procedure, caters to those suffering from mild osteoarthritis of the knees. “It resurfaces arthritic portions of the knee while maintaining normal and healthy knee tissue,” said Dr. Chow. MAKOplasty is ideal for the active young adult who doesn’t require a full knee replacement.
These procedures, performed at St. Luke’s Medical Center, reduce patient recovery times, minimize scarring and provide more natural joint movement.
If you are one of the many people living with joint pain, Dr. Chow offers the following advice for finding relief and preventing excessive wear and tear:
Stay Active. Your joints are meant to be used and many factors can help you stay strong. Are you wearing the proper footwear? Did you warm up your muscles? Listen to your body and don’t push yourself beyond your ability. Power walking or hiking may be better, low-impact alternatives to running.
Protect Your Joints. To avoid extra stress on your body and provide added support, use handrails and door handles around the office and at home.
Change Your Routine. Running applies pressure on your knees and stress on your hip bones. Walking can suffice, or switch it up and try a no impact activity like yoga or water aerobics.
Watch for Reoccurring Symptoms. If you feel pain and notice swelling for more than a few days without improvement, seek further medical attention.
Care for Your New Body. If you’ve decided to receive a surgical replacement, care of the implant is essential to its longevity. The strain caused by high-impact activities, such as running, jumping and heavy lifting can wear the implant out faster. Partake in activities like doubles tennis, hiking, biking, yoga and golf instead.
Jimmy Chow, M.D., is a double-fellowship-trained hip and knee reconstruction and arthroscopy surgeon, specializing in tissue preservation and rapid recovery. A member of the medical staff at St. Luke’s Medical Center, Dr. Chow is one of only a dozen surgeons in the world — and the only surgeon in Arizona — to routinely perform the SuperPATH tissue-preserving hip replacement surgery procedure. In addition, Dr. Chow is the first surgeon in Arizona to offer the state-of-the-art robotic partial knee resurfacing procedure, MAKOplasty. He currently trains surgeons from around the world in these advanced techniques. For more information or to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, call 1-877-351-WELL (9355).
This information is provided by St. Luke’s Medical Center as general information only and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.