Total Knee Replacement

Total knee replacements are becoming more common at any age given the wear and tear on the knees. Our William F. Tucker, Jr., MD, has more insight into this procedure:

Total knee replacement is one of the most common and most successful procedures in all of us. On average about 2 knees are replaced for every hip. This is due to the amount of stress which is placed in a localized area in the knee, which is a much more complicated joint than the hip.

Potential causes for arthritis, the reason people have the knee replaced, or increased stress from previous injury, such as sports related injuries, fall, accidents and increased weight. Knees see approximately 6 pounds of stress for every pound of bodyweight so even a small change in body weight has a great impact on the amount of stress seen in the knee.

Sports/activities which place significant stress on the knees and therefore are more associated with the replacements include football, soccer and high-impact activities such as rugby, hockey, and gymnastics.

The conventional wisdom was to wait until you are miserable before having a joint replaced. Following this advice leads to surgery on a severely deformed knee and a severely debilitated patient. My recommendation is to replace the joint when the conservative measures, such as weight loss, activity modifications and use of pain or anti-inflammatory medications like Tylenol, Advil or prescription anti-inflammatories no longer allows what you want to do and need to do to remain healthy.

Newer implants have significant improvements in materials, instrumentation which allows were better more producible correction of deformity, and easier and quicker recoveries which allow this surgery, which was once reserved for a last ditch effort and a miserable, usually out of shape patient, now to be performed in younger, healthier, more active patients.

The time in the hospital is shortened, typically in the range of one or 2 nights in the hospital. The thought process has progressed from the idea of the patient being “sick” to the patient being “well” but having a bad hip or knee. In some cases, the surgery can be performed as a day surgery. My advice to patients is a hospital is a good place to be for short period of time. It is much better to recover at home.

Medical data also indicates that the risk of complications with surgery is significantly higher in patients who are obese. Weight control is one of the most basic and important ways to minimize the need for knee replacement and minimize the risk of problems and improve the lifespan of your own knee as well as a replaced knee.

In summary, when you’re hip or knee is the primary issue keeping you from being healthy and active, don’t keep suffering.

Winter Orthopedic Injury

Avoiding Orthopedic Injury During Winter Play

Texans don’t really catch “fresh powder” at home, but we somehow maintain a hearty love of snow and ski slopes. And whether we choose a weekend in New Mexico or a grander getaway to Colorado resorts, Texans are always seeking exciting winter escapades.

But before you head up a mountain—and certainly before you glide back down—prep yourself to stay safe and avoid all-too-common orthopedic skiing and snowboarding injuries.

Common Orthopedic Offenses In Skiing

Arguably the single most common type of injury associated with skiing or snowboarding is a sprain or tear in the knee, in particular the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Ascending the slopes, working your way back down, and attempting to correct a fall all present opportunities to injure the knee.

Other common injuries are unsurprisingly associated with falling and tend to affect the hands and wrists or shoulder. You know the scene, even if you don’t snowboard or ski: the fall is approaching, it’s happening in slow motion, and so you extend your arms to catch yourself. This scene almost never concludes with you unscathed.

Keep Yourself Unscathed On the Slopes

So how do you stay safe while taking full advantage of snow sports? Here are three pro tips to keep you in one piece.

  1. Conditioning: Athletes don’t just train to perform well; they train to remain uninjured. The same applies for regular Joes hitting the slopes; snowboarding and skiing are athletic endeavors and the appropriate physical preparation will do a lot for your safety. Maintain your cardio power and muscular strength throughout the year, and then be sure to warm up immediately before your activity.
  2. Equipment: This may seem like a no-brainer, but too many accidents can be blamed on ill-fitting boots, worn bindings (this device keeps your ski attached to your boot) and ski poles that are the wrong length for the skier’s height. Whether you own your gear or are renting it from a ski facility, check it before every outing and don’t rely on anything that isn’t up to par.
  3. Weather & Environment: You traveled all this way, have only two days to hit the slopes, and that’s when an icy storm blows through. It’s disappointing. But high winds, low visibility, wet snow and ice, or a sudden drop in temperature can all spell disaster when you’re zipping down a steep hill. So mind the weather and know what conditions you face on the slopes.

Make It Memorable, Keep It Safe

An epic winter adventure shouldn’t be remembered for the injury that brought it crashing to a halt. So do yourself a favor and take the proper steps to ensure your own safety, and possibly that of others. And if you find yourself nursing an orthopedic tweak or injury, contact Methodist Hospital for Surgery’s renowned orthopedic team.