Like the steel framework of a high-rise building, our body’s skeletal structure and connecting tissues support our active lifestyles throughout the day. Unlike a building’s framework, we can actually strengthen and improve our internal framework every day to stay healthy and avoid injuries.
October is Healthy Bone and Joint Month, so active people of all ages, especially aging adults, should “listen to their body” and take stock of what hurts after mowing the yard, walking the dog or competing in weekend sports.
We all live with the possibility of falling and injuring a hip, knee, joint or ligament. When these accidents happen, or an unknown pain appears, a visit with an orthopedist is usually recommended.
Orthopedics is the study of conditions involving our musculoskeletal system, made up of our bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. These specialists not only study when something breaks, they also study bone and joint diseases that affect roughly 50% of Americans. These diseases include everything from childhood conditions to advanced arthritic issues in elderly patients.
Some orthopedists are generalists, while others specialize in certain areas of the body, such as hands, shoulders and elbows, knees and hips or the broader category of sports medicine.
Common orthopedic ailments
Your primary care provider or local emergency department will often refer you to an orthopedist for consultations of physical ailments, especially:
Knee and hip pain
Pain in one or both of your knees can be caused by a sudden event, overuse, or an underlying diagnosis like osteoarthritis. The treatment of the condition will depend on the cause and how severe the injury is impacting your daily life. An orthopedist can diagnose your condition, perhaps with an x-ray, and will discuss the many options of treatment.
Hip pain can also occur for several reasons, especially by a fall, a sudden incident, or overuse. The hip is a large ball and socket joint that is lined with cartilage to allow for smooth movement. There is also a cartilage ring around the socket called a labrum. Hip pain can be caused by problems in the joint or the ligaments that hold the joint together. Your orthopedist will make recommendations on healing and (hopefully) eliminating the pain.
Tips to stay healthy
To help support your daily activities and avoid unexpected falls and accidents, here are some great tips on keeping your bones and joints healthy:
- Keep a healthy body weight – Additional weight can increase the stress on your hard-working joints.
- Stay active – Physical activity helps maintain your bone density as you age.
- Stretching loosens your tight muscles, tendons and ligaments, which can affect your posture and balance. Be sure to exercise correctly!
- Make smart food choices rich in calcium and vitamin D, which are essential to building strong, dense bones when you’re young and to keeping them strong and healthy as you age.
- Seek medical advice for bone or joint pain, but don’t wait until you are at crisis level. Your pain can be something simple but possibly a sign of a major health issue. The sooner you intervene the better.
- Discuss with your orthopedist the ways you can live without pain and do the things you like.
- Live…but live cautiously.
For more information about orthopedic care, click here.
To schedule an appointment with an orthopedist, click here.