HOUSE CALLS By Gerald W. Deas, M.D.MPH
Too many times, I have observed in my practice many patients in pain who present me with a bag of arthritis pills that have not been working. In Fact, the pills were negatively working in the wrong place. Often, the patients would have stomach pain due to the arthritis medication. It is known that many of the medications used for arthritic pain can cause serious ulcers of the stomach resulting in bleeding.
After getting appropriate diagnostic tests, I often have decided that the patient needs joint replacement to get rid of the pain forever. Of course, the mere mention of surgery frightens the patient. However, after gaining their confidence, many patients will undergo the surgical procedure and thank me for their new painless life.
In the U.S., approximately a half-million people undergo joint replacement each year. The knee and the hip are the most commonly replaced joints. Just getting an X-ray is not sufficient to assess the damage in the joint. An MRI is necessary to determine the extent of the damage. Because of the expense of an MRI, a physician may avoid this test and continue giving pain pills. In my prior practice, consisting mainly of African American patients, I was surprised how often this procedure was not recommended and the patient was just offered pain medication without surgery as an option.
The surgical procedure on a joint is known as arthroplasty, which simply means the reshaping of a joint surface. If the bone surface of the joint is completely destroyed, the surgeon is capable of replacing the bone with an implant known as a prosthesis. Joints are damaged by diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, fractures, death of bone due to poor blood supply (osteonecrosis) and gouty arthritis.
Successful joint replacement can be done on the hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands.
If your joint is jumpin’, I would suggest that you be examined by a well-qualified orthopedic surgeon and have your joint totally evaluated. If surgery is recommended, put your faith in the hands of God and the surgeon and I am sure that you will be able to throw away the pills and make that joint jump to a different tune and experience less pain.
For great health tips and access to an online community of physicians and other healthcare professionals, visit DrDeas.com.
This article originally appeared in the June 5, 2013 print edition.