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Posted on in Orthopedics

7 Ways to Avoid Hip & Knee Joint Replacement

Total hip replacements are expected to grow 175% between now and 2030, according to a recent report.  Total joint replacement surgery for knees is also expected to grow dramatically over the next few years.

“Pain and stiffness are the most common signs of a bad knee or hip,” says Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Pat Denton of Pee Dee Orthopaedic Associates. “But not every case of a bad knee or hip joint has to end in surgery. Here are a number of ways to avoid – or at least attempt delaying – the need for total joint replacement.”

  • Weight Loss.  Studies show that excess weight puts stress on hip and knee joints –especially knees. Losing even small amounts of weight can lead to dramatic reductions in wear-and-tear from pressure on knees.  Shedding 15 pounds can cut knee pain in half.
  • Diet. In addition to controlling weight by eating less or more wisely, certain food selections can help build calcium in your bones, increase red blood cells or preserve cartilage.
    • Dark leafy greens, almonds, spinach & soybeans can help strengthen bones.
    • Canned salmon or Sardines with bones contain calcium for your bones.
    • Salmon and ocean trout contain omega-3 fatty acids, reducing inflammation and decreasing pain.
    • Shellfish contain glucosamine, which helps nourish cells and preserve cartilage.
    • Rose hips, a traditional remedy, produce small-to-moderate short-term reduction in arthritis pain. 
  • Physical Activity. A variety of activity and exercises can help strengthen muscles to support the joint and relieve pressure.
    • Weight Training with small hand weights or stretch bands helps protect bones.
    • Tai Chi, the Chinese martial arts technique, uses “soft” or slow movement to strengthen muscles, promoting balance and protecting against falls.
  • Over the Counter Medications. More than half the people over 50 have some type of hip or knee wear-and-tear resulting in pain. Medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can reduce the pain. 

  • Prescription Medications. If over-the-counter medication doesn’t sufficiently control your pain, your physician may turn to stronger prescription drugs. These therapies might include a stronger dose or contain codeine to help with the pain.  Neither level of medication will improve the joint’s condition. It simply reduces the pain.
  • Injections.  Several types of injections can improve the joint’s movement or reduce pain.
    • Corticosteroids can alleviate inflammation and pain when injected directly into the knee joint.
    • Hyaluronic Acid helps the body’s natural lubricants, easing pain and increasing the knee or hip functioning.
    • Botox – used by doctors to smooth forehead and facial wrinkles -- can relieve severe pain from osteoarthritis in the knee by blocking nerves to the brain.
  • Electrical Stimulation.  Medical devices can strengthen muscles in the front of the thigh and help stabilize the knee.  In some patients, the electrical simulation has encouraged the regrowth of joint cells (cartilage).

Final Thought. Some sources also suggest using a cane or walker.  However, if your daily pain and stiffness is severe enough to require these types of medical aids, you should talk seriously with an orthopedic specialist about surgery. 

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Sources include:  McLeod Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health, Arthritis Foundation, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American College of Rheumatology

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