JAG-ONE Physical Therapy’s Clinical Director, Sean Kane, talked to local residents about joint replacements at the West Milford Recreation Center on Wednesday.
“The most predominant is total hip (replacement),” Kane said during his presentation. “That more than anything, in terms of joint replacements, (is) the most common surgical procedure.”
Kane also discussed knee and shoulder replacements on Wednesday, and the longtime physical therapist emphasized the fact that the surgical and recovery processes will differ depending on which joint needs to be replaced.
“That just has to do with the anatomy of the shoulder, which is inherently unstable,” he said. “The hip joint (conversely) is an inherently solid structure.”
According to Kane, that’s what makes recovering from a hip replacement easier than recovering from a shoulder or knee replacement.
“After a surgery, especially with the knee and shoulder in particular, it’s very difficult to reestablish motion,” he said. “That’s the beauty of hip replacements. You can get on it right away.”
As far as which joint one can expect to require replacement, Kane said that depends on your lifestyle and the kinds of activities you’ve done throughout your life.
“If you’re a plumber and you’re on your knees all day long then you’re going to have knee problems. If you’re an electrician and you’re working on lights all day long then you’re going to have shoulder issues,” said Kane. “It’s overuse, over time, is what it is. We all are guilty of relying on our system to get through our day-to-day activities.”
Kane, who says communication is key to determining just what constitutes overuse for each patient, also cited arthritis as a critical factor.
“The point is, where your stresses are most prevalent is where your age-related changes will occur,” he said.
Kane then walked the audience of about 12 through the process of determining that a joint replacement is required, pointing out that doctors should explore all other options, including physical therapy, before doing so.
“The good orthopedic surgeons do not want to cut you,” he said. “It’s the last thing they want to do, and for that reason physical therapy has boomed in my lifetime.”
Once all other options have been explored and a replacement is deemed necessary, then Kane says that the patient can expect a relatively quick procedure.
“Hip replacements are almost day surgeries nowadays,” he said. “You can have it at nine o’clock in the morning and be home for dinner.”
According to Kane, the doctor will perform some exams post-surgery to see what the patient is capable of doing before referring him/her back to physical therapy, usually within just two weeks of the procedure.
“It’s a hard sell sometimes. Patients don’t want to do it. It’s an area that’s painful, it’s swollen, there’s a scar, there’s still stitches,” Kane said. “But you’ve got to move. If you don’t start moving, then that swelling becomes chronic.”
The good news is that the physical therapy programs are relatively quick, according to Kane.
“The hip, you’re in and out within four weeks, for the most part,” he said. “But it’s necessary. You need that motion, if you don’t get that mobility back, you will end up having some other problems down the road.”
Kane says that the physical therapist will use your history to develop exercises specific to your problem, but he also emphasized that the therapist can only do so much.
“Everyone who’s been a patient at our clinic knows that you have to do exercises every day,” he said. “The physical therapist can teach you how to get well and they can try and push you along to make sure you don’t get stuck at certain levels of progression, but you’ve got to do the exercises.”
For those who have trouble walking or performing weight-bearing activities, Kane recommends getting into a pool or onto an exercise bicycle.
“There’s always some kind of exercise you can do. It doesn’t matter what your level of abilities are,” he said. “Exercise nourishes joints.”
To learn more about JAG-ONE Physical Therapy or any of their upcoming events, visit their website at www.jagonept.com.