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June 2012
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Archive for June, 2012


It’s said that it is important in life to have an honest mechanic, an honest doctor, and an honest accountant.  If you trust your doctor that is great – cherish the relationship.  But what if you don’t?  What if your orthopedic surgeon told you that your knees need to replaced and you’re unsure.

Concerned patients ask us all the time for medical advice.  And regardless of the question our answer is usually the same.  Get a second opinion from a different orthopedic surgeon.  Get a third if you’re still unsure.  Get as many professional opinions that you need until you are certain of your treatment options.  You get to make the decisions about your health.

Surgery can be a safe and effective arthritic knee treatment.  And at times it is absolutely necessary.  If you trust your orthopedic surgeon, tell your friends and family.  Refer that doctor new patients.  If your doctor has earned your trust reward their practice with new referrals.

If you don’t trust your doctor then get a second or third opinion to see if what the doctor is telling you is accurate.  If the other opinions are similar to the original recommendation, then maybe you can consider trusting the person.

Are you having trouble getting up and exercising?  It’s easier with friends.  Check at your local recreation center, church, gym, or senior center for exercise groups.  If you don’t find any information, start a group yourself.  You may be surprised at the response.  Exercise is really important for arthritic knees.  And people who exercise with others are more likely to keep up with their exercise programs.

So get up, be social, and get those knees moving.  Knee joints need to bend to stay lubricated.  Exercise can be the best medicine for knee osteoarthritis.




An arthritic knee brace generally should not be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.  Rheumatoid arthritis is the chemical breakdown of cartilage, and most knee braces can’t do much to make a joint affected by this condition feel better.  An unloading knee brace is indicated for osteoarthritis.  Since osteoarthritis is the mechanical breakdown of cartilage, a knee brace that changes the biomechanics of the knee joint can shift the body weight the knee joint absorbs from the unhealthy part of the cartilage to the healthier side.  When a knee is affected by rheumatoid generally the entire mass of cartilage is affected not just one specific side.

So beware of advertisements that explain a knee brace can help with rheumatoid arthritis.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Knee osteoarthritis leaves sufferers in pain and feeling immobile. The less you exercise and stretch, the tighter your muscles and ligaments become and the more pain and stiffness you experience. By stretching and lengthening these knee components the knee can move easier and with less pain.

A common stretch to loosen up is the hip flexor stretch. To perform this stretch kneel with one knee on the ground (you can use a towel for a cushion). Your other knee should be out in front of you at a right angle with the floor. Place your chin on your chest, keeping your back straight. Keep your pelvis square and do not allow your knee to pass in front of your toes.

Repeat this stretch for both legs holding the stretch for 30 seconds.

Ice and cold therapy can make an arthritic knee feel better.  A wrap around knee ice pack is a good way to provide cold therapy to an achy knee while watching television at the end of the day.  The wrap around design keeps the pack from slipping if you shift in your seat or want to get up for a quick trip to the kitchen or bathroom.  Remember ice in fifteen minute intervals.  Gel ice packs conform to the knee better than ice and you don’t have to worry about a leaky bag.  A cold therapy arthritis knee wrap can make icing at the end of the day a little easier.

Cane Use

June 15, 2012

Canes should be used to help with balance, increase a person’s base of support, and lessen the load placed on the knees, legs, and feet. However if a cane is going to help achieve these goals it must be used properly.  To walk with a cane on level surfaces a person should:

1.  Hold the cane in the hand on your “good” side, so it give stability to the “bad” side.

2.  Move the cane forward at the same time as you move the side that needs help.

3.  Always have the “good”side take the first step.

Canes can help a person with osteoarthritis walk a little farther.

Knee function can be improved with better balance.  Not only that, but muscle strength and the physical activities of daily living can also get better with improved balance.

Just about any undertaking that keeps a person up and moving, like walking, can help maintain and improve balance.  Specific exercises to improve balance can easily be added to an exercise routine.   A person can balance on one foot while watching television or while waiting for the subway.  Standing up and sitting down without hands can also strengthen legs and improve balance.

Improving balance can help knee osteoarthritis, and reduce the risk of falling.


A recent study shows that smokers have a harder time with knee replacement surgery than non-smokers.  That’s not a surprise.  But what is surprising is that the research said there was no difference between current smokers and patients that had quit.

Dr. Michael Mont, director of the Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement said, “It could be that the damage was already done.  When you smoke and stop, you improve your health, but you still have build-up in your system. That may be why we didn’t see a difference.”

The study, which was presented at the annual Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in San Francisco, examined 600 knee replacements in 60 – 65 year old patients.  About 20% of the patients were smokers.  Problems related to surgery like failing kidneys, blood clots, and abnormal heart rhythms affected 21% of the smokers compared to 12% of the non-smokers.  Smokers were ten times more likely to have a revision surgery to fix things that went wrong than non-smokers.

One of the last treatment options for osteoarthritis of the knee is knee replacement surgery.