If you're 25 years of age or older and experience severe pain in your hips, legs and ankles from being overweight, see an orthopedic surgeon right away. The pain you feel can be a symptom of a degenerative joint disease, such as osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) typically develops in women who are over age 55 but can also affect young adults in their 20s. Here's how obesity affects osteoarthritis and what an orthopedic surgeon can do to repair the damage to your joints and the bones connected to them.
What's Osteoarthritis and How Does It Affect You?
Osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage between your bones deteriorate or wear away. Cartilage is a connective tissue that keeps bones from rubbing together and creating heat or friction beneath your skin. Without the proper layer of cartilage, your joints and bones develop a number of symptoms, including pain and swelling.
Pain develops in your joints when fluids build up between the bones and swell with pressure. The skin over your sore joints may throb with pain when you lift your legs, bend your knees or move your hips. In severe cases of OA, your joints hurt with or without any kind of stimulation.
Being overweight increases the wear and tear in your joints, even when you don't move your body. For instance, the weight of your upper body presses down on the joints of your lower body when you lie down, stand up or sit. You may have a tough time lying in bed, such as on your side or back, because of your symptoms.
Eventually, your symptoms of OA increase and spread to smaller areas of your body. For example, flexing or bending your fingers becomes very uncomfortable when you type on a computer or write with a pen. Your hands swell up and feel hot to the touch.
Bending down to put on your shoes or pick something up from the floor may bother you because of the pain in your ribs, hips and spine. Although it's an uncommon occurrence, arthritis can damage or inflame the cartilage between your ribs. If this happens, you develop breathing problems because the soft tissues of your ribs expand or swell with inflammation.
You can overcome your OA and it's symptoms by seeing an orthopedic surgeon for care.
How Can Your Orthopedic Surgeon Repair the Damage to Your Joints?
An orthopedic surgeon offers a number of surgical and nonsurgical treatments that improve the health and functions of osteoarthritic joints. But to use the right treatment for your particular health needs, the surgeon performs bone scans and other tests on your body. The tests tell the surgeon if your OA requires surgery or something less extensive, such as medication, to manage it.
If your OA is too severe, your doctor may replace the worn cartilage in your body with natural or artificial tissue grafts. The grafting tissue rebuilds your cartilage by encouraging new cells to grow in the damaged locations.
Some advanced surgeries, such as chondroplasty, are used to rebuild the cartilage between your knees and other joints by resurfacing them. Resurfaced or cleaned bone tissues may regenerate new cartilage over time.
After you receive orthopedic treatment, protect your joints and bones from future damage by losing weight.
How Do You Keep Your Bones and Joints Healthy After Treatment?
Your surgeon may prescribe physical therapy to help you heal faster after treatment. You can also take advantage of your therapy to lose weight. For instance, you may ask your physical therapist to include exercises in your treatment that encourage weight loss. Water exercises and strength training work well for you because they build stronger muscle tissue and improve flexibility in your joints.
Eating more vegetables that contain calcium and other bone-building nutrients can help you lose weight and protect your bones and joints. Your orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist may provide a referral to a nutritionist if needed.
For more information, see a website such as http://www.towncenterorthopaedics.com.
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