How to know when it’s time for new joints

How to know when it’s time for new joints

BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Most people struggling with osteoarthritis in their hips and knees are able to manage the condition with weight loss, medication, cortisone injections and physical therapy. But if those options aren’t working, how do you decide if and when replacement is the right move for you?

Sixty-three-year old Kristine Hoffman has the energy of a woman half her age.

But a lifetime of running, gymnastics and dancing took a toll on Kris’s hips.

Hoffman shared, “I couldn’t cross my leg, my right leg over my left side anymore. There were just a lot of things little by little that I was losing.”

Kamala Littleton, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Mercy Medical Center, specializes in hip and knee replacements. Here are the three questions to ask yourself if you think it’s time for new joints. First, is pain ruining your mood most of the time?

“If it is making you angry or sad or something like that, I think it’s time to address it more aggressively,” stated Dr. Littleton.

Do you need constant medication to relieve joint pain? Have you stopped doing the things you love?

“You don’t want to go to a movie because you know it’s going to be so miserable when you get up after the movie - or fly on an airplane or go on a vacation,” Dr. Littleton continued.

Dr. Littleton says hip replacement surgery is less invasive these days, making recovery easier and faster. Knee replacement recovery is tougher and requires pre-planning. Will you have to navigate steps? Who will drive you to physical therapy?

“You’ve got to do therapy. You’ve got to fight like a little marine through this process. And, if you do that, you can be very, very successful,” added Dr. Littleton.

Hoffman had her right hip replaced in 2005 and her left one done last year.

“I’m just not ready to hang it up. I’m not. I can fix this,” smiled Hoffman.

Now she’s on her feet and ready for another adventure.

Doctors say because the artificial joints commonly last about 20 years, you really don’t want to replace too early. On the other hand, if you wait so long that you are not mobile, you’ll lose strength and endurance, making recovery more difficult. Dr. Littleton says there is no specific age at which she would rule out replacement, but it does depend on the individual patient’s health.

Copyright 2019 WMC. All rights reserved. Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Ken Ashe, Editor; and Kirk Manson, Videographer.