Let’s face it: Most people would prefer never having to undergo surgery for any reason. That’s why many people who suffer from arthritis or any kind of joint, bone or muscular pain look for alternative orthopaedic treatment options. This is often especially true for older people, because possible complications from surgery can be more serious in the elderly.
While surgery is sometimes unavoidable, it’s important to note that orthopaedic doctors generally try to exhaust all alternative options before recommending surgery. The following are a number of alternative options that your physician may recommend before suggesting surgery:
Exercise: There are a number of low impact strength and conditioning exercises that can help strengthen muscles around the affected joint or other area of the body to help relieve pain.
Weight Loss: People who are overweight put extra stress on their joints whenever they walk or do other physical activities. Losing weight can help ease the pressure on joints and reduce pain.
Cortisone Injections: Cortisone has been proven effective in reducing both pain and swelling of the joints in many cases. This drug can be injected into virtually any joint in the body.
Anti-inflammatory Medication:There are a number of medications that can be taken in pill form to help reduce pain, swelling and inflammation in the joints.
Joint Fluid Injections: This is a procedure where a special fluid is injected into the joint in order to improve lubrication and relieve pain and inflammation. This fluid is actually made from a chemical called sodium hyaluronate that occurs naturally in your joints.
Bracing: In some cases, a brace can be used to provide stability to the joint, relieve pain and strengthen the muscles. Braces are most commonly used on knee joints.
How Will I Know If or When Surgery Becomes Necessary?
There’s no simple answer to this question because each person is different and every orthopaedic problem is unique in its own way. However, here are a few things you should discuss with your doctor when deciding whether or not surgery is the right option for you:
Pain: Everyone reacts to pain differently. Some of us can endure it more easily than others. However, if you are experiencing severe or consistent pain over a period of months, you may want to consider surgery – especially if other pain relief treatments have failed.
Mobility: If your orthopaedic problem is preventing you from walking properly or doing other physical activities, it may be time to consider surgery. This is especially important if you are unstable on your feet and in danger of falling when you move around.
Quality of Life: If your orthopaedic problem is negatively affecting your quality of life (not being able to travel, go out to eat, visit family and friends, etc.) you may want to consider surgery.
The smart thing to do when exploring the possibilities of orthopaedic surgery and/or alternative treatments is to have a discussion with your doctor.
DISCLAIMER: Always consult your physician before acting on any medical advice or tips you may receive – including those involving medical procedures, exercises, lifestyle changes, supplements, vitamins, etc. Lafayette General Orthopaedic Hospital is not responsible for any adverse effects experienced by persons who act upon advice without prior approval from a qualified physician.