Hip pain and problems range from sciatica to osteoarthritis and hip fractures.
The knee is a complex joint of bones held together with tendons, ligaments, and muscles—any of which can be damaged through everyday activities or high-impact sports.
Did You Know?
Having a joint replacement doesn't mean you can't be active. In fact, you should be active, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Check with your health care provider before choosing an activity, because some forms of exercise may be better for your replacement joint than others.
Joint pain can be caused by damage done to the cartilage from arthritis, infection, inflammation or trauma. The specialists in the Orthopedic Department at Trinity Hospital of Augusta perform a wide range of orthopedic services. Our talented and trained staff provides care for joint injuries and pain and treats patients for diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and more. In addition, our staff performs surgical orthopedic procedures including arthroscopic surgery, unicondylar knee replacements and total hip and knee replacement.
Arthritis is not just a single disease. It is a term used to describe over 100 different conditions that affect the joints in the body. The word arthritis actually means inflammation of a joint. Almost every animal that can walk is susceptible to this inflammation. Although many types of arthritis have some common aspects, each type has its own pattern of symptoms and affects different people in different ways.
Two major forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system appears to go awry and attacks healthy parts of the body, particularly the joints. In severe rheumatoid arthritis, the joints become deformed and intern organs are adversely affected.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is also called degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. Almost everyone is affected by it to some extent as they grow older. It most frequently occurs in weight-bearing joints, mainly knees, hips and ankles. This form of arthritis slowly and gradually breaks down the cartilage that covers the ends of each bone in a joint.
Normally, cartilage acts as a shock absorber, providing a smooth surface between the bones. But with osteoarthritis, the smooth surface becomes rough and pitted. In advanced stages, it may wear away completely. Without their normal gliding surfaces, the bones grind against one another causing inflammation, pain and restricted movement. Bone spurs may form.
In osteoarthritis of the knee, the shape of the bone and appearance of the leg may change over the years. Many people become bow-legged or knock-kneed. Also, in osteoarthritis of the hip, the affected leg may appear to be shorter.
What are the symptoms?
The number one symptom is pain. The pain is caused by irritation and pressure on nerve endings, as well as muscle tension and fatigue. The pain can progress from mild soreness and aching with movement to severe pain, even when resting. The second symptom is loss of easy movement, such as bending or rising normal. Morning stiffness is a problem for many people. This lack of mobility, in turn, often causes the muscles serving the knee or hip to weaken, and overall body coordination suffers.
How is it diagnosed?
A skilled orthopedic doctor will take a medical history, perform a physical examination, and confirm the diagnosis by ordering a simple weight-bearing x-ray. Time-consuming and costly diagnostic procedures are not required.
What is the treatment?
There is no cure for arthritis, but the past decade has seen dramatic new ways to manage the pain, lack of mobility, and fatigue that are among its most disabling symptoms. During the early and middle stages, a treatment program of medicines, cortisone shots, ice treatments, exercise, and physical therapy can be very effective in reducing symptoms and improving mobility.
- Medicines: Coated aspirin helps relieve pain and has few side effects. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as Voltaren and Naprosyn are prescription drugs for pain and inflammation. Do not take aspirin if you are taking NSAIDS.
- Cortisone Injections: Occasionally, cortisone injections are given for inflammation of a specific joint. The effect of the injection can last for months. Several shots a year can be given without any dangerous side effects.
- Ice or Heat Treatments: Ice packs on the knee (three times daily, 10-20 minutes at a time) are helpful for inflammation and temporary relief of pain and soreness. Heat applications can also be helpful in alleviating osteoarthritis pain.
- Diet: There is no evidence that any specific foods will prevent or relieve arthritis symptoms. Excess weight aggravates the pain of osteoarthritis by putting added pressure on the knee and hip.
- Exercise and Rest: Prolonged rest and days of inactivity will increase stiffness and make it harder to move around. Motion is lotion for arthritis! At the same time, excessive or improper exercise can overwork your arthritic joint and cause further damage. A balanced routine of rest and exercise is best.
What about surgery?
- Arthroscopy: Arthroscopic procedures are not generally helpful for arthritis. In some case, a “flap” of torn knee cartilage can aggravate arthritis and cause additional pain. The cartilage flap can be removed by arthroscopy.
- Knee or Hip Replacement: Total joint replacement is the most commonly used surgical procedure for patients with advanced osteoarthritis. The rough, worn surfaces of the joint are relined with smooth-surfaced metal and plastic components.
At Trinity Hospital of Augusta, joint replacement is performed by a team of highly skilled orthopedic surgeons in a unique program called Joint Efforts. Our Joint Efforts multidisciplinary team is composed of surgeons, nurses, physical therapists, social workers and home health workers who are all here to provide care before, during and after surgery. The program involves group education, group exercises, family involvement and social interaction. Our Joint Efforts Unit is dedicated to the care of total knee and hip replacement patients. We have specially trained nurses, therapists and other caregivers who work with our physicians to provide the best in care and service for patients undergoing this important procedure.
Group Exercise Class is a daily event with new friends on the Joint Efforts Unit. Since our goal is to return you to a more normal, healthy lifestyle as quickly as possible, we will provide education, information and even a few pleasant surprises during your hospital stay. Our physicians share the common vision and dedication to delivering quality care and service to you during this important time.
The Anterior Approach -- Hip Replacement Surgery
With a shorter recovery period, this specialized minimally invasive approach to hip replacement allows patients to return to their daily lifestyle faster than with most traditional approaches.
What is the Anterior Approach? The Anterior Approach allows the surgeon to reach the hip joint from the front of the hip as opposed to the lateral (side) or the posterior (back) approach. This way, the hip can be replaced without detachment of muscle from the pelvis or femur during surgery. The surgeon can simply work through the natural interval between the muscles. The most important muscles for hip function, the gluteal muscles that attach to the pelvis and femur, are left undisturbed and, therefore, do not require a healing process with the Anterior Approach.
Patients benefit from the Anterior Approach. Many people suffering with arthritis, hip pain and stiffness can now choose a less invasive procedure when hip replacement surgery is their treatment of choice. One of the least invasive surgical options is The Anterior Approach – a technique that minimizes the pain and time from surgery to recovery.
How is Patient Recovery Improved? Conventional lateral or posterior surgery typically requires strict precautions for the patient. Most patients must limit flexing of the hip to no more than 60 or 90 degrees which complicates normal activities like sitting in a chair, on a toilet seat, putting on shoes or getting into a car. Simply climbing stairs may also be more difficult during recovery.
The Anterior Approach allows patients to immediately bed their hip freely and bear full weight when comfortable, resulting in a more rapid return to normal function. After surgery, patients are instructed to use their hip normally without cumbersome restrictions. In supervised therapy, patients climb up and down stairs before being discharged from the hospital.
Potential Advantages of the Anterior Approach:
- Shorter hospital stay
- Smaller incision
- Less muscle trauma
- Faster recovery
- Reduced pain
- Reduced tissue healing required
- Reduced risk of dislocation
- More rapid return to daily activities.
For more information on the Orthopedic services at Trinity Hospital of Augusta, please call 706-481-7676.