As one ages, common complaints arise such as achy joints and a sore back. Even a good night’s rest seems a thing of the past when back and hip pain make getting into a comfortable position nearly an impossible endeavor. These issues are not relegated to the aging populations alone but are increasing in younger populations as well. In fact, Science Daily reports that 126.6 million Americans, that is 1 in 2 adults are suffering from a musculoskeletal condition. According to this report, the most commonly treated conditions are arthritis, back and neck pain and osteoporosis. What is the impact on those dealing with these conditions and how can orthopedic treatment help?
The following are the most common problems that can be treated with orthopedic treatments.
Osteoarthritis – Degenerative Joint Disease
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and affects 300 million people worldwide according to Osteoarthritis Foundation International. It is a disease that affects the bone, cartilage and soft tissue of the joints and occurs most commonly in the hip, knees and hands, but also can occur in the feet and spine. As the protective cushion of cartilage on the ends of bones wears away, this degeneration of the joint can lead to pain and stiffness. It is the most common cause of hip pain and often affects individuals over 40 years of age.
The following orthopedic procedures may bring help and relief to those suffering with degenerative joint disease.
- Arthroscopy – A small button hole sized incision is made near the affected joint. By means of a scope or camera, the surgeon is able to visualize areas of damage and then correct underlying problems.
- Joint replacement surgery – Replacement of the joint with an orthopedic prosthesis. In some cases it is now possible to perform a less invasive version of this surgery through small incisions and to only replace the damaged part of the joint.
- Cervical Disc Replacement – The cervical disc acts as a shock absorber between the vertebrae or bones of the spinal column. When these discs are diseased and not able to act as a cushion, a disc replacement can be performed. This involves, replacing the damaged disc with an artificial disc.
Osteoporosis often goes undetected and is not usually diagnosed until suffering a broken bone after a fall or injury. The National Osteoporosis Foundation explains that osteoporosis, which means “porous bone”, occurs when the body either loses bone mass or makes too little of it. As the bones lose density or mass they become more susceptible to breaking even with minor injuries. It is estimated that in the greater than 50 age group, one in two women and one in four men will sustain a break because of osteoporosis. In addition to the aging process, there are also many diseases and medications that cause loss of bone density.
In the event of a fracture, emergency surgery may be necessary. 80% of hip fractures are seen in women and most occur in individuals over 60 years of age.
- Femur Repair – Surgical repair of the femur, the thigh bone that makes up part of the hip joint. Metal devices such as pins and screws may be surgically placed to stabilize the fracture or a hip replacement may be required if damage is extensive.
- Kyphoplasty – A minimally invasive spinal surgery to treat compression fractures of the spine. Through a small incision at the fracture site, a balloon is inserted between the compressed disc and then inflated in order to expand the compressed area. A kind of cement is injected into this empty space and acts to stabilize the discs.
Back and Neck Injury
Commonly precipitated by a car accident, a back and neck injury can greatly decrease your mobility and diminish your quality of life. Some non-invasive treatments that can be tried initially would include, physical and occupational therapy. But if pain is persistent and not responsive to other methods of treatment, more invasive methods may be tried.
- Epidural Block- An injection of medication into the membrane covering the spinal cord. These medications could be anesthetics which decrease nerve sensitivity and pain or steroids which decrease inflammation.
- Lumbar Spinal Fusion – When the vertebrae slip out of place or there is a curvature of the spine, a spinal fusion may be performed. This involves fusing two or more vertebrae together using a piece of bone taken from the hip of the patient and rods and screws may be utilized to stabilize the spine making for faster recovery.
Torn ligaments or sprains can occur commonly in either hard-core athletes or in your average person attempting to stay fit with an exercise routine. Sports or athletic injuries could include ACL or Meniscus tears. The ACL or anterior cruciate ligament is a band of fibrous connective tissue that stabilizes the knee joint, connecting the thigh bone to the shin bone. An ACL tear may occur from a sharp or sudden twisting movement. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons explains that another knee injury that often occurs at the same time as an ACL tear is a torn Meniscus. The Meniscus are two pieces of cartilage that cushion and protect the knee joint where the bones of the femur, shin and knee meet.
- ACL Reconstruction – Performed arthroscopically, the damaged ligament is surgically removed. A new tendon either from a donor or harvested from another site from the knee is used to replace the damaged ACL.
- Meniscal Repair – Through a small arthroscopic incision, the torn Meniscus is either surgically trimmed to remove damaged area or stitched back together.
If you are dealing with any of the above mentioned conditions and are considering your treatment options, seek help from an orthopedist. This could be your chance to have a greater quality of life with more mobility and freedom.