Almost everyone at some point in their life experiences arthritis pain and symptoms. Every joint in your body is covered with a layer of articular cartilage on each bone that faces one another. This cartilage can be very thin such as in the lower back joints or finger joints – or it can be extremely thick – measuring over ¼ of an inch in your knee, hip or ankle. When it is normal, this cartilage is totally firm and smooth as glass. Arthritis occurs when this surface cartilage starts cracking and softening, causing chunks of it to break or come loose, eventually wearing away.

There are many things that can be done to help avoid the deterioration that occurs in articular cartilage. There is no question that over the counter glucosamine and chondroitin in adequate doses can be very effective to maintain the health of articular cartilage. Veterinarians were among the first to use this substance very effectively in dogs and horses, with dramatic results.

Another very effective non-operative treatment for arthritis is “viscoelastic supplementation”, otherwise known as “chicken shots”. We know that nourishment for articular cartilage comes from the nutrients that are diffused from the lining of any joint called synovium into this lubricating substance within the joint called hyaluronic acid. This substance then transfers the nutrients directly to the surface cartilage as the joint is used and moved. It is for this reason that movement and exercise are one of the very effective ways at maintaining the health of your surface cartilage. It is now possible to have “booster shots” of this lubricant hyaluronic acid otherwise knows as viscoelastic supplementation in your knee.

Arthritic symptoms become most significant when the surface cartilage is worn through to what is called “bone to bone” arthritis.  At that point the symptoms usually escalate dramatically and become much more disabling. In major joints such as hip, knee, shoulder and ankle, the problem can be resolved with joint replacements. Once considered a modern miracle, it is now common to perform replacements for any of these major joints. The determining factor for a joint replacement is the persistence of pain and disability causing significant alteration in your lifestyle

You should know that St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Joint Care Center (JCC) is a leader in the state of Michigan and is a true center of excellence. Our record of safety and quality and extremely low complications cannot be matched by and other hospitals in this area. This excellence is clearly documented by national rating systems that you can access on the Internet.

The most important reason to come to St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Joint Care Center is the excellent nursing and physical therapy staff. While all of our orthopedic surgeons are among the best, our nurses and therapists are the most kind compassionate knowledgeable and skillful people you will find anywhere. Most of our patients go out of their way to give high praise for the exceptional care they have received at out Joint Care Center. We will get you back on your feet with less pain – and faster than you can imagine – with the best hospital care anywhere. If you give us a chance, we will not disappoint you.

Nothing Tastes As Good As It Feels To Be Thin

Several years ago one of my patients made that statement to me and it has stuck with me ever since. It is such a true statement about health, but I would add that your heart, your spine, and your joints also depend on it. Everyone knows that diet and exercise is the key to weight loss, but what exactly does that mean? Here are a few practical tips that I have found very helpful in my life and for many patients over the years.

Weight loss is a major part of your overall health, not just a cosmetic problem. Do not use the excuse that your physical condition, including arthritic joints limiting your ability to exercise, is the reason that you cannot avoid being overweight.  Basically, if your exercise level is diminished for whatever reason, then your intake must be cut back accordingly. In order to lose weight, you must make it a priority everyday. You cannot manage what you do not measure;  therefore, you should have an accurate bathroom scale, preferably a digital readout,  that you check with every morning. That way, your activity and dietary intake for the day will be affected by that number.

Where “diet” implies a temporary fix to a chronic problem, what you really need is a change in lifestyle. Your eating habits need to be modified in three ways:  lower calories (smaller portions), lower fat, and minimize carbohydrates. Lowering calories requires approximately a 50% reduction in your average total intake per day. Lowering fat requires avoiding saturated fat (read food labels),  and especially avoiding, obviously high-fat items such as bacon, sausage, cheese, ice cream, hot dogs, pizza, and snack foods.  Lowering carbohydrates requires eliminating all bread and bread products (bagels, crackers, etc.),  all pasta, all potatoes, all rice, and all sweets (pies, cakes, pastries, cookies, candy and soft drinks). Therefore, your daily food intake should consist of only: low fat meat, fish or chicken, vegetables, fruits, and salads. A daily mini-fast is often a good idea, skipping either breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  If you want to go for optimal health, you might try a “Whole Food Plant Based Diet” which eliminates all animal protein, all dairy, and all refined foods. Check out “vegan diet” on the internet.

Exercise is essential to any weight loss program. Ideally, 60 minutes of exercise per day should be your goal, but 30 minutes minimum.  A brisk walk outdoors or on a treadmill, (approximately 3 m.p.h.), riding a bike, or using any kind of low impact equipment at a fitness center (such as stair machine, ski machine, elliptical machine, exercise bike and swimming) are all beneficial ways to stay active.  Divided doses of exercise in two half-hour segments are fine – any exercise that you do is good.  Avoid taking elevators whenever possible. Take stairs even if you stop on every floor or two to catch your breath.  For people with arthritic hips or knees, an exercise bike is still your best option, where your body weight is supported, and your legs are just exercising without as much stress.

Hopefully, these suggestions are helpful to you.  My wife and I have been following this program for years with good success