Did you know that each year there are about 500,000 total knee replacements and around 230,000 total hip replacements performed in the US. As each year passes these numbers continue to increase and it’s clear that a lot of Medicare dollars spent on these two particular surgeries.
This might have you thinking – what are some reasons for the increased number of joint replacements? Well, here are some of the reasons…
– The obesity rate is increasing, which means that hip and knee joints are deteriorating faster.
– People are living longer. In fact, many actually outlive their initial replacement.
– New techniques are being learned everyday, which means surgical procedures are improving.
That being said there are many ways that you can prolong the need for such a surgery. Some people choose medications and injections, but we think that physical therapy is a drastically under utilized resource that could prolong patients from having to consider something as invasive as surgery for quite some time.
Things five things in mind:
1. When you begin to feel increased knee or hip pain get evaluated immediately. Even if it just feels a little bit awkward or tight, get evaluated. By doing so you are allowing us to see what (if anything) is wrong, and allowing us to take the necessary steps to help you fix muscle flexibility and strength issues early on. Making sure that this happens is key to reducing the risk of breakdown in your joints.
2. Some of you that have never tried physical therapy will automatically assume that the replacement is needed. In this case I encourage you to simply make the decision for yourself. How do you know if something is going to work or not unless you’ve tried it? Get in to see a physical therapist before making any major decisions.
3. It is very important to make sure that you keep moving, stay active, and truly commitment to doing so. Although it is possible that you might be in a bit of pain while walking (or moving in general), it is important that you retain the strength and mobility you do have.
4. Be proactive in changing your lifestyle is very important. I do my best to encourage all of my patients to be dedicated to their home program. One of the worst things you can do is spend the time (and money) going through a 6 week PT program, feel significant improvements, and then lose them because you stop taking care of yourself one the program is complete. What you need to remember is that having good muscle strength and flexibility is essential to keeping knee pain and hip pain minimal – so listen to your therapist and keep up with your home program!
5. I might sound like a broken record by saying this – but if you are overweight you need to strongly consider exercise and/or dieting. What a lot of people don’t know is that losing ONE pound is equivalent to FIVE pound of stress relief from your joints. Pretty crazy right?
When all’s said and done there are so many options to help you prolong the need for joint replacements. Physical therapy can significantly improve your quality of life, and I truly feel that it should be your first step. Who knows, maybe we can help get rid of the majority of your pain without the need for surgery – and if you can’t, at least you gave it a try!
If you are currently suffering from pain, or I have convinced you to give PT a try, please don’t wait any longer. Give us a call today to set up your first appointment – I promise you won’t regret it.