06 July 2017
As we get older we all complain about ‘creaking’ joints and the inability to do things we could do ‘when we were young.’
There are things we can do to keep our joints healthy and in good order. However, if a joint, such as a knee, is no longer operating properly replacement is sometimes the best option.
Mr James Newman, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Spire Methley Park Hospital, says that putting off surgery can often cause more problems, as people think you have to be ‘of a certain age’ before you contemplate a joint replacement.
Here he answers some often-asked questions about joint health and joint surgery
Question: Joint pain can be increasingly common when we age. Is it important that people don't ignore pains that are worsened by walking?
Answer: Pain is the way your body tells you that something is wrong. The problem is too many people ignore the warnings and ‘battle through’ the pain either with the help of painkillers or by sheer grit! Either way they are not doing themselves any favours.
It may be that the pain can be managed or that a course with a physiotherapist could be all that is needed but the important thing is to get it checked out, first by your GP and then with a scan or X-ray.
Putting up with pain just isn’t a sensible option.
Question: What might happen if they don't get them checked quickly - can they worsen over time and could surgery be required?
Answer: As we get older our joints do get stiffer – that’s just a fact of life. However, putting off getting treatment will only make matters worse and could have a detrimental effect on other joints.
For example, if you limping because of a pain in your knee, this usually means you are putting pressure on other joints as you change the way you walk.
Limping changes your walking pattern and so forces other joints to operate in a way they have not been used to. This might be acceptable for a short-term injury but if you do it over a long time it will affect other parts of your body.
Question: Do some people simply stop physical activity to avoid the pain of damaged joints and how will that affect their general health?
Answer: If you don’t get treatment then it may become the case that walking is just too painful. If that’s the case then other health issues will often arise.
Your heart and lungs needs exercise in order to function properly and you may also find that you put on weight because of your lack of activity.
A new hip or knee really can give you a new lease of life. Suddenly walking becomes not only an option but actually an enjoyable option.
These days joint replacement surgery has a fantastic success rate and people really can get back to doing the things they loved. I know people in their 50s and 60s who had given up golf or tennis because of joint pain who are now back in action following successful surgery.
Depending on age and general fitness running and even low contact sports are also possible – I tell patients not to let aching joints dictate your lifestyle when so many treatment options are available.
The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.