Dr. Yau Shares Some Vital Information about Bone and Joint Health
September 13, 2017
Taking care of your bone and joint health is an essential part of staying healthy and mobile. Over our lifetimes of heavy work and play, we put our bodies through tremendous wear and tear, and often take our joints for granted.
Each year, over one million Americans are diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the leading cause of hip and knee pain. This disease affects the daily lives of over 30 million US adults every day. Hip osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and decreased range of motion. It is caused by joint overuse, age, and injury. As the disease progresses, the cartilage that lubricates and cushions your hips begins to wear away, which can lead to the most severe cases of “bone-on-bone” arthritis, the complete loss of all remaining cartilage.
During the early stages of the disease, patients usually complain of groin or buttock pain that is worsened after a full day’s work or after prolonged physical activity. As the protective hip cartilage continues to deteriorate, patients may notice a limp, pain during rest, or have difficulty climbing stairs or bending over. At the end stage of the disease, patients are often unable to walk even short distances without having to stop due to pain. Any activity that places stress on the hip can flare up inflammation and cause micro fractures, making every step as painful as walking on a broken bone.
As the pain worsens, quality of life suffers. Suddenly a trip to the grocery store becomes a difficult task. Vacations can be ruined by taking a bad step or walking on uneven ground. People give up their passions, finding it too painful to play golf or bowl. Activities of daily living that once seemed trivial, such as laundry or bathing, are now challenging to perform. In some cases, patients choose to use wheelchairs and give up entirely on the idea of walking independently.
Fortunately, modern technology has given orthopaedic surgeons the tools to help alleviate the pain and suffering of osteoarthritis. Although orthopaedic surgeons treat hip arthritis even in the earliest stages with both operative and non-operative treatments, the progressive nature of the disease means the vast majority of patients will eventually require surgery. Since its development 60 years ago, the modern hip replacement has allowed millions of Americans to return to the activities they love and has alleviated their pain. With cutting-edge minimally invasive anterior hip replacements, patients are often walking out of the hospital the very next day. As implant technology has improved, so has the durability of modern hip replacements, meaning patients can usually expect their hip replacement to last their entire lives with no restrictions on what activities they can and can’t do. This gives patients a new lease on life, with major health improvements for both body and soul.
If hip pain is starting to decrease the quality of life for you or someone you know, it may be time to get it checked out. It is our job to keep you as active and as pain-free as possible, and we have the tools to get you there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Cameron Yau, BSc, MDCM, FRCSC is an orthopaedic surgeon with a special interest in hip and knee replacements at Three Rivers Health. He completed his medical school training at McGill University and a subsequent orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of Toronto. He then undertook a fellowship in minimally invasive and complex hip and knee reconstructive surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.