Health Matters is a quarterly publication. Please click here to read Spring 2010 issue. Excerpt:
Preserve or Replace Aging Joints
As increasing numbers of baby boomers reach retirement
age, joint replacement surgery is becoming a reality for more and more Americans. Relief from osteoarthritis pain and improved joint function to continue active lifestyles are common reasons for choosing joint replacement. Learning how toprotect your joints, and what to expect if joint replacement is in your future, can help you stay active for years.
Protect Your Joints
The Arthritis Foundation and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggest you take these steps to protect your joints:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Losing extra pounds reduces stress and wear and tear on knees, hips, back, and feet.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity protects joints by strengthening the muscles that support them.
- Avoid repetitive stress. Alternating strenuous activities with rest puts less stress on sensitive joints.
- Swap high-impact sports with low-impact activities. Instead of tennis, racquetball, or running, try swimming, water aerobics, walking, or golf.
- Use over-the-counter or prescription medications to control pain and inflammation. You can also receive injections of corticosteroids directly in painful knee joints.
- Take part in physical or occupational therapy. This can increase joint flexibility, muscle strength, and range of motion.
- Use mechanical aids such as braces, crutches, walkers, or canes.
When to Replace
If you have any of the following signs, lifestyle changes may not be enough. Speak with your doctor about joint replacement if:
- Your joint pain is disturbing your sleep.
- You have tried different noninvasive treatments, including pain medications, and they are not controlling your joint pain.
- Your joint pain limits your ability to keep up a normal routine.
- Your joint pain makes it hard for you to get out of a chair, go up stairs, or get up from the floor.