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Articles > Put off joint-replacement surgery: A step-by-step plan!

Put off joint-replacement surgery: A step-by-step plan!

Can giving your joints a healthy dose of TLC help you manage the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis (OA)? You bet! In fact, taking good care of your joints may help you delay joint- replacement surgery until you and your doctor decide the time is really right. Interested? Try this five-part strategy for better joint health:

Donna Banks

Provided by HealthMonitor

Go ahead, Google to your heart's content. Read up on your condition,
and then make two lists:

Questions for your doctor
These might include:
" I'm in pain and it's limiting my activities. How can I reduce the pain and get moving again?
" Do I have options other than joint-replacement surgery? What are they? What are the pros and cons?
" Is there anything I can do to delay joint-replacement surgery? What will happen if I put it off?
" What can I expect after
the surgery?

Your personal goals
Here are some examples:
" I want to be able to sleep, pain-free, through the night.
" I gave up the Boston Marathon long ago and I'm okay with that, but I still want to dance at weddings with my husband.
" My friends keep raving about Vinyasa yoga. I want to try it.
" I want to splash through the surf with my grandkids.

Talk about your questions and goals with your doctor. Remember,
you and your doctor are partners in your joint health!

If you need to lose some weight, take heart: You don't have to get down to your high school weight to help your health; shedding just a bit will help. Consider this: Every extra pound you carry puts four additional pounds of pressure on your knees as you walk. That means you could take 40 pounds of damaging pressure off your knees by dropping just 10 pounds. In fact, one study showed women who lose about 10 pounds'15 if you're a man'could cut knee pain in half!

Want to get started? Step on the scale, do the math (be honest with yourself!) and commit to a simple, eat-smart regimen today. For an easy strategy, try focusing on portion control: Simply "eyeball" each meal using these tips:

" Load up half a salad-sized plate with a healthy green salad and steamed veggies. If you like, add a splash of vinaigrette, just enough to lightly coat the greens. Your food should be full of color'red tomatoes, yellow squash, orange peppers and purple eggplant.
" Add a portion of fish, meat or chicken that's about the size of a deck of cards.
" Complete your meal with one ice-cream-scoop size serving of carbs, such as rice, pasta or potatoes.

" Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
" Add a couple of healthy snacks throughout the day'a handful of baby carrots, four small crackers or an apple.
" Enjoy a small treat'a few pieces of candy, a scoop of ice cream, a brownie'once a week.

You don't have to walk five miles a day to keep your joints healthy. But you can walk 40 minutes three times a week by simply hitting the treadmill, taking a brisk stroll around your neighborhood or walking at your local mall. Walk even if your joints are stiff or inflamed. Low-impact exercise helps lubricate joints, making it easier for you to move around.

Before you start stepping: Get an okay from your doctor'and buy a good pair of walking shoes. Look for a lightweight shoe that fits well, is flexible in the toe area and stable in the heel. Start off slowly and build up your endurance. "Your body will tell you when it's had enough," says Chris Keating, a physical therapist with NovaCare Rehabilitation, in Delran, NJ. If walking is too painful, try taking an aquatics class several times a week. The buoyancy of the water will reduce stress on your joints'and lessen the pain.

Exercise enhances your ability to perform everyday tasks like lifting grocery bags, mowing the lawn and picking up a child'because it strengthens your musculoskeletal system. That gives you the flexibility to twist, bend and move about freely'with less risk of injury and further joint damage.

In time, you'll notice that you're standing a little taller; good posture helps support the joints in your back, hips and knees. Your balance will improve, too, which will help you avoid falls and injuries. Best of all, using your muscles burns more calories'so get ready to watch the weight slide off.

Although stretching is so important, it's just not on the radar for most people. To reduce pain and stiffness, it's best to stretch before and after every exercise session. When you stretch, though, be careful not to bounce. Just gently bend and straighten each joint as far as it will go, working your neck, back, hips, knees, ankles, arms, wrists. Hold each position for a few seconds, if you can.

Avoid this:
It's keeping your joints bent. While it may ease OA discomfort momentarily, holding a joint in one position for too long can lead to a permanent loss of mobility. Regular stretching, however, will reduce stiffness, preserve flexibility and decrease the risk of injury.

Knee Pain Osteoarthritis Arthralgia, Knee Balance Hip Pain Joint Stiffness Knee Pain Pain Pain in the Heel Stress Eggplant Attention Deficit Disorder Exercise More Reduce Stress Falls

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