The Increase in Hip Problems Poses a Challenge for Pretoria Bone Specialists
Studies suggest that the incidence of joint problems has been increasing in recent years. In the past, a developing pain and stiffness in a shoulder, knee or other joint, in the absence of physical injury to account for it, was a symptom that was predominately a concern among the elderly, and largely considered to be par for the course in patients aged 65 and over. More recently, however, the incidence of these symptoms appears to have widened. They are being reported in a growing number of men and women in their 50s and, in some cases, even younger.
The hip specialists at Pretoria Hip, Knee and Shoulder Surgeons have been experiencing an increased demand for arthroscopy and arthroplasty. Some of that increase can be accounted for by the team’s reputation for excellence, which continues to attract substantial numbers of both local and international referrals. However, the wider demographic is also contributing significantly to the demand for elective procedures, such as resurfacing and total hip replacement.
Although not the only one, the most common reason for a patient to require such treatments is damage to the articulating surfaces of the bones in a joint, due to the condition known as osteoarthritis. The condition results in a thinning of the protective layer of cartilage covering the ends of the bone. In response, activity in the surrounding tissues is increased and, in particular, underlying bone thickens abnormally and produces bony protrusions known as osteophytes. When natural repair efforts fail, the exposed ends rub together, becoming worn, which then leads to pain and diminished mobility.
This does not automatically require the services of a hip specialist, such as those at the Pretoria orthopaedics practice. In fact, there are a number of alternatives that should be explored before opting to undergo surgery. While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are a number of ways in which to alleviate its symptoms. Where these are mild, OTC medications, such as ibuprofen, may reduce inflammation and control pain, while moderate to severe cases may still respond to prescription medications. Corticosteroids are the most common choice, and act to reduce the inflammation and swelling responsible for the pain.
Often, pain management can be further helped by combining medication with low impact exercise, such as yoga, t’ai chi, static cycling and swimming. In addition, there are a variety of self-care options. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help protect cartilage, while a hot compress applied to a stiff joint can free it up temporarily. Losing weight can also be a great help, as it appears that the high incidence of obesity is fuelling the demand for surgical interventions by hip specialists, not just in Pretoria, but in most developed countries.
When the symptoms of osteoarthritis continue to worsen and the pain and stiffness no longer respond, even to prescribed medication, partial or total replacement remains the only option. Given the years of research into the design and composition of prosthetic joints and the advances in the surgical techniques used in their insertion, the long-term prognosis for patients undergoing all forms of arthroplasty has never been better. So, if the pain in a shoulder, knee of hip is no longer manageable, it may be time to consult the Pretoria-based specialists.