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How to improve your lifestyle and delay surgery

While many of our patients believe surgery is inevitable, they want to avoid it for as long as possible. There are many things that can be done to delay the need for surgery.

So what can you do to delay surgery?
Weight loss is very effective in reducing the load or stress on joints and the subsequent pain.  A loss of 10 per cent of body weight in overweight people can reduce pain from knee arthritis by up to 50%. To promote weight loss, choose a healthy diet and regular gentle exercise options like yoga, Pilates, swimming, hydrotherapy, tai chi and beach walks. 
A daily stretching routine and light weight-bearing exercises are helpful in strengthening muscles and increasing flexibility.  Strong muscles help to support the joints.  Exercise can also build cartilage which can slow the progression of arthritis. Remember it will take time to establish a routine and notice improvement in your joint pain and swelling. 
Regular exercise can help to:

  • Improve general mobility, movement of joints, muscle strength, posture and balance
  • Decrease pain, fatigue, muscle tension and stress.

All Australian adults should be aiming to do at least 30 minutes of moderate weight bearing activity on most days of the week.

Exercise safety tips:

  • Talk to your doctor and physiotherapist before starting an exercise program
  • You may need more rest and less exercise during a period of increased pain or stiffness
  • Always build up slowly
  • Always start your exercise with some gentle movements to warm up your body and your joints
  • Cool down at the end of your session with some gentle movements and stretches

A healthy diet is also important
Review your diet and limit fatty and sugary treats.  A calcium or glucosamine supplement may be beneficial – speak to your GP or a dietician for advice.

Educate yourself on pain management
You can learn useful pain management information at the Take Charge of Pain workshops offered by Arthritis SA.

Consider your emotional health too
Exercise will also assist in boosting your mood, another symptom of long-term joint pain. A walk with a friend could be a welcome distraction from discomfort and provide positive social interactions.  If you need help with household duties, ask a friend, family member or community service for assistance.  Trying to push beyond your physical limitations may do further damage.

Still in a lot of pain? 
If you are still in a lot of discomfort, ask your GP, who may refer you to a specialist.  Surgery can be a successful option for people with advanced disease, severe pain, and functional limitations. 
In the July edition of Arthritis SA Magazine, we will discuss Preparing for Surgery.

About Orthopaedics SA
Orthopaedics SA has the most comprehensive group of Orthopaedic surgeons in SA, with 24 surgeons able to treat bone and joint problems relating to arthritis, degenerative conditions, sports injuries, trauma, fractures and genetics. We are conservative in our approach to surgery, and will be happy to discuss the effective management of your injury or condition.