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When Joint Pain Doesn’t Stop

Running, tennis, racquetball, team sports—engaging in these activities throughout a lifetime can be tough on your knees, hips and other joints. This can lead to ongoing pain that interferes with the normal activities of daily life. For many people, the solution is joint replacement. 

Should You Consider Surgery?

If you have any of the following signs, it’s time to talk with your healthcare provider about joint replacement:

  • Your joint pain continues while resting, either day or night.
  • Your joint pain makes it hard for you to do normal activities like getting out of a chair, going up stairs or walking more than a short distance.
  • You’ve tried different noninvasive treatments, including pain medications, and they’re not controlling your joint pain.

You may be aware that early on in the pandemic, many joint replacements were delayed or canceled. This protected patients from exposure to the virus, and it saved medical equipment for doctors treating COVID-19. But if your care team recommends surgery now, they have full confidence you won’t face unnecessary risks. 

It also means your long-term outcome will likely be better if you have the procedure sooner, not later. Depending on your condition, delaying surgery could lead to:

  • More pain and loss of function.
  • Neurological problems.
  • Trouble getting back to work or performing everyday activities. 

Be Kind to Your Joints

Joint replacements are safe and effective, but there’s an alternative: taking care of the joints you already have. In the best of circumstances, these lifestyle changes may be enough to improve function and control pain:

  • Eating a healthy diet. Healthy eating helps maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds can cause more wear and tear on joints.
  • Staying active. Exercise protects joints by strengthening the muscles that support them.
  • Choosing low-impact activities if you have arthritis. Instead of racquetball or running, try swimming, water aerobics, walking or biking.
  • Getting enough rest. Sleep helps restore energy and decrease swelling and pain. And, alternating strenuous activities with rest puts less stress on sensitive joints.
  • Using over-the-counter or prescription medications to control pain and inflammation. You can also receive injections of corticosteroids directly in painful joints.
  • Taking part in physical or occupational therapy. This may help increase your mobility, muscle strength and ability to perform everyday activities.
  • Using mechanical aids. Braces, splints, canes or other devices may offer some help.

The bottom line? You don’t have to suffer with joint pain. Contact your healthcare provider to discuss the treatment that makes sense for you.

To learn more about total joint replacement surgery at Overlake, visit overlakehospital.org/orthopedics.

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