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Hill Country Health Blog

Connect Forty: Managing your changing joints

May 20

Written by:
5/20/2016 10:01 AM  RssIcon

Joints graphic

Do you feel greater strain in your joints or find it harder to complete exercise routines? It’s not only you. After 40, all women lose elasticity in connective tissues like ligaments and tendons and muscle mass declines.

Protecting Your Joints

Orthopedist Dr. Stuart Shapiro advises, “Don’t start jogging, aerobics and yard projects without preparing your limbs and joints. Stretch your shoulders, hips and knees to get the blood flowing to your muscles.

“Whether you’re moving a mound of dirt or carrying a heavy cooler to the river, carrying extra weight improperly is one of the most common ways to injure yourself. To safely lift heavy items, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees, tighten your core and lift objects with your thigh muscles instead of your back.”

If you’re feeling discomfort in your knees and ankles, don’t stop exercising. Just switch things up. Floor stretching or walking with a neighbor will help you strengthen muscles and burn calories while sparing your joints. And swimming is a great way to stay active while cushioning your joints.

Dr. Shapiro suggests activities that strengthen your core like planking. This allows you to increase your heart rate with a lower risk for lower back injury than sit-ups and crunches. “You want to maintain a healthy diet appropriate for your age and activity level. Be certain to avoid excessive calories as they will be stored as fat. There is significant recent data that suggests diets high in wheat and gluten can be harmful.”

Common Causes of Hip Pain

Women tend to suffer from hip pain more than men. The most common causes of hip pain in women are arthritis, hip fractures, tendinitis, bursitis, hernia, endometriosis and lower back/lumbar/spine problems. 

Treatment for hip pain depends on the diagnosis, but pain that’s caused by overuse or sports injuries is often treated with heat, rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. If pain persists despite conservative home remedies, Dr. Shapiro advises an evaluation by a medical professional. 

Excess weight can put pressure on the hip joint and excessive body fat is also linked to increased inflammation. Losing  pounds can provide relief and help you avoid further problems. Be aware that smoking is also highly correlated with chronic pain in addition to many other health detriments.

Modern Hip Repair

For patients who require hip replacement, Dr. Shapiro specializes in the anterior approach. This is a tissue-sparing alternative to traditional hip replacement surgery that provides the potential for less pain, faster recovery and improved mobility because the muscle tissues are spared during the surgical procedure. Patients are usually able to resume full, unrestricted activity six weeks after surgery.

Dr. Susan HudsonStuart Shapiro, DO, is an Orthopedic Surgeon at the Live Oak Health Partners Specialty Care clinic in San Marcos, Texas. 

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Central Texas Medical Center
1301 Wonder World Drive
San Marcos, TX 78666