As we get older, we begin to find signs of age. Our skin is not as firm. We are not as flexible. We slow down and actually acknowledge we are in pain. But what happens when our joint pain becomes so excruciating that we are limited in our day-to-day activities?
Unfortunately, many choose the most invasive option first – surgery.
Alarming Statistics For Joint Replacement Surgeries
Over the last few decades, the number of total hip and knee replacement surgeries has been rising at an alarming rate. In the United States, total hip and replacement surgeries have increased by more than 50% and 170%, respectively. Europe is also seeing similar rises for these procedures, with some northern European countries reporting alarming statistics of between 170% and 500% increase over the last decade alone.
Many suggest that the increase in statistical numbers is primarily related to the increasing age of our population combined with the accessibility and advancement of surgical procedures.
Of course, for those with unrelenting daily pain, these radical surgeries can appear to be a blessing. However, with the level of risk associated with the procedures themselves combined with the fact that the occurrence of nosocomial infections is continuing to rise, it is essential that we start taking action today to help prevent these types of surgeries from continuing to grow in popularity.
When is Surgery An Option?
Most replacement surgeries are done when a patient reaches the point of severe and unrelenting pain caused by degenerative joint disease, also referred to as osteoarthritis.
The hips, knees, and ankles are all weight-bearing joints. These joints are big and strong and have many surfaces on which to distribute the substantial mechanical loads which are placed on them throughout the day.
Unfortunately, these joints may not last forever, and similar to many living systems, when their age starts to show, they begin breaking down. If this breaking down process progresses, the joint can become necrotic, at which point a replacement is almost inevitable. However, significant research suggests that this breaking down process can, at the very least, be slowed down, and in many cases, it can be reversed.
One Step Forward – Two Back
By far, the best way forward is the old reliable: regular exercise, as vigorous as possible; a healthy diet containing plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; and sufficient rest consistently. Regular chiropractic care can also be a key component of helping to keep your weight-bearing joints in peak condition and improve poor posture. Unfortunately, our good habits often affect our health, which we do a few times less often than our poor lifestyle habits.
One is the ability to place our bodies in a poor posture for extended lengths of time. Chronic poor posture is a significant factor that results in abnormal movement patterns in these large joints and leaves them susceptible to degeneration. Unfortunately, our body doesn’t come with an instruction manual. So as time goes on, the inefficient habits we develop as children and teenagers can become permanent. We slouch, let our abdominal muscles sag, and stand with all our weight on one leg, and noticeably our heads stick out in front of our shoulders rather than being centered over our chests. As a result, our neck, shoulders, and lower back muscles are chronically tight and painful. The domino effect is that the uneven distribution of the body’s weight ultimately causes restricted movements and degeneration of our hips and knees.
The second significant factor is poor dietary habits. You may not know this, but these large joints produce their own lubricating fluid. However, certain nutritional deficiencies can result in essential nutrients not being available and, thus, poor production of the lubricating fluids. Lack of proper joint lubrication leads to osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis leads to pain in the joints when used for exercise. Lack of regular exercise inhibits normal joint motion, nutrition, and lubrication, resulting in the development of degenerative joint diseases. So when you add up faulty biomechanics, lack of a healthy diet, and lack of proper exercise, the result is a prescription for chronic hip and knee problems.
Ready To Help!
The best time to start addressing these issues is when you’re young and have healthy joints. That doesn’t mean that you at any age can’t get started; it just means that starting healthy lifestyle habits is easier to achieve when you are younger. But no matter if you are 9 or 90, the best time to begin making healthy changes is right now.
Call today and find out if we have a solution that could avoid surgery and help your body adapt, restore function, recover faster, and continue better health from this point onward.
For Your Health,
Dr. Steven M. Gillis