Preserve Your Aging Joints
Jogging, tennis, racquetball—a lot of active baby boomers have been tough on their knees, hips, and other joints all their lives. This may lead some to turn to joint replacement surgery.
Joint replacements are safe and effective, but there’s an alternative: taking steps to care for the joints you already have. Be kind to your joints by:
Eating a healthy diet. Healthy eating helps maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds can cause extra stress, wear and tear on painful joints.
Staying active. Exercise protects joints by strengthening the muscles that support them.
Swapping high-impact sports with low-impact activities. Instead of tennis, racquetball, or running, try swimming, water aerobics, walking, or biking.
Getting enough rest. Alternating strenuous activities with rest puts less stress on sensitive joints. Poor sleep can make arthritis pain and fatigue worse.
Using over-the-counter or prescription medications to control pain and inflammation. You can also receive injections of corticosteroids directly in painful joints.
Taking part in physical or occupational therapy. This can increase joint flexibility, muscle strength, and your ability to perform everyday activities.
Using mechanical aids. Braces, crutches, walkers, or canes may offer some help.
When to Replace Joints
In the best of circumstances, these lifestyle changes may be enough to improve function and control pain. But if you have any of the following signs, speak with your doctor about joint replacement:
Your joint pain continues while resting, either day or night.
Your joint pain makes it hard for you to do normal activities like getting out of a chair, going up stairs, or walking more than a short distance.
You’ve tried different noninvasive treatments, including pain medications, and they’re not controlling your joint pain.
If your doctor believes you’re a candidate for joint replacement, you’ll be referred to an orthopedic surgeon.
Over the years, surgical techniques have improved and new materials have been developed for implants. As a result, complications associated with these surgeries have decreased significantly.