Arthritic joints are swollen, or inflamed, usually because the smooth cartilage around them has been damaged in some way. Patients with arthritis suffer pain, stiffness and swelling in the affected area(s). Nearly one in three adults suffers from arthritis or other chronic joint symptoms. Arthritis is the most common chronic ailment among the elderly, although it can affect people of any age, including children.
Although there are many treatment options available to relieve arthritis pain, some people are so severely affected by this condition that their pain is unresponsive to conservative methods. Long-term, disabling arthritis pain may benefit from joint surgery to reduce pain and restore normal functioning. Joint surgery is typically used as a last resort treatment for arthritis. Joint surgery depends on the location and severity of the pain. Hip and knee surgeries are most common, but some procedures can also be used for the ankles, wrists, fingers and thumbs. Many of these procedures are minimally invasive as new technology helps to provide less scarring and shorter recovery times.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to diagnose and sometimes treat joint injuries and disease through small incisions in the skin. Potentially treatable injuries include tendon tears, torn cartilage or ligaments, inflamed joint lining, carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff tears, and loose bone or cartilage.
Stress fractures are overuse injuries in which small cracks or breaks form in a bone. They occur when muscles lose their ability to absorb shocks. The excess energy then transfers to the bone, which cracks under the pressure. As one of the body’s most weight-bearing bones, the tibia (shin bone) is highly susceptible.
Sports medicine is a sub-specialty of orthopedics that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries suffered during athletic activity. The goal of treatment is to heal and rehabilitate the injury so patients can return to their favorite activities quickly, whether it’s Little League, recreational play or a high school, college or professional sport. As with a sports team, there are many physicians who work together to help the patient regain maximum use of the injured limb or joint. “Players” on the team are typically the physician, orthopedic surgeon, rehabilitation specialist, athletic trainer and physical therapist – and the patient him/herself. Common injuries treated include:
Osteoarthritis, also known as wear-and-tear or degenerative arthritis, is the most common form of the disease, affecting millions of people in the US each year. This condition is most common in older patients whose cartilage has worn down over time, and in athletes who have worn down their cartilage from overuse and repetitive motions. Patients with osteoarthritis may experience pain, swelling and stiffness within the joint, which tend to worsen as the condition progresses. Your doctor can diagnose this condition after evaluating your symptoms and performing an X-ray examination of the knee. Treatment for osteoarthritis initially focuses on relieving pain and other symptoms, and may include rest, physical therapy, bracing and anti-inflammatory medication. More severe cases of osteoarthritis may require surgery to reposition the bones or replace the joint. Most procedures can be performed through arthroscopy, which significantly reduces bleeding, scarring and recovery times.
Orthopaedic physical therapy involves the rehabilitation of an injured bone, muscle, tendon, ligament, joint or limb. The injury may have been acute (the result of one incident) or chronic (long-term). The patient may begin therapy after undergoing an amputation or surgery to correct or improve the problem. Rehabilitation programs are tailored to each patient with the goals of relieving pain and restoring maximum function to the injured area. Stretching and strengthening exercises are critical. Improvement is sought in strength, flexibility, mobility, coordination, posture, balance, gait, cardiopulmonary health, and pain. Treatment modalities may include massage, whirlpools, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat and cold applications, or alternative therapies. For athletes, rehabilitation typically involves a dual fitness program of weights and cardiovascular training.