Managing Aging Joints
Young people are active and flexible. As people age, flexibility and joint pain is often one of the biggest complaints. In some cases, this pain can be sufficiently managed with over-the-counter medications and intentional rest. But what happens when the pain won’t go away? There are some key signs that patients should consider a total joint replacement. And when patients do opt for surgery, some specific benefits make minimally invasive surgery optimal.
1. Daily activities are too painful
As people age, wear and tear at the joints are normal. Many people also suffer from osteoarthritis, where the cartilage between the joints breaks down, causing bone to touch against bone. For some people, lifestyle changes can help to reduce this pain. However, if a person is no longer able to perform daily activities, such as getting in and out of the car, going up and down a flight of stairs, or stepping in and out of the shower without help, a total joint replacement may be optimal.
2. Your doctor says other treatments aren’t going to help
Most of the time, if nonsurgical treatment is available, doctors will opt for these options. However, when a physician says that less invasive treatments are unlikely to continue to help, this may be a sign to consider total joint replacement. Before surgery, some options like steroid injections and over-the-counter pain medications can make joint pain more manageable. If these treatments cease to work, however, a joint replacement may be the next step.
3. Your pain keeps you up at night
Typically, the inflammation and discomfort associated with joint pain improve with rest. But what if a person is still experiencing joint pain, even after limiting activity? If pain is still keeping a person up at night, despite taking medication for pain management, this may be a sign to consider surgery.
What is MIS?
Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is a surgical technique that uses a few incisions and small instruments to see inside the body and perform the surgery. MIS is associated with faster recovery, less pain, less cutting, and lower risk of infection. What many people don’t realize is that performing a total joint replacement with minimally invasive techniques is possible.
Minimally invasive total joint replacement
One of the most common minimally invasive joint replacements is at the knee. During this procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision at the knee and removes the portions of the bones that make up the knee. Then, the surgeon replaces these bones with metal parts to recreate the knee. A special layer of plastic is typically used between the metal components to ensure smooth movement.
Speak with a surgeon
Joint pain is common, but that doesn’t mean people need to white-knuckle through the discomfort. There are treatment options. If joint pain is interfering with daily life, patients should speak with a surgeon about total joint replacement and the possibility of minimally invasive surgery.