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Does Your Joint Replacement Have a Warranty?

One of the most common questions patients tend to ask their orthopedic surgeons, is about how long their joint replacement will last. Will it last a certain number of years, or is there a designated warranty that comes with the joint replacement, whether hip, knee, shoulder, etc.?  While you might think this type of question would be easy to answer, your orthopedic surgeon will tell you it’s not that simple.

This question is actually quite complicated to answer for orthopedic surgeons. Everyone’s anatomy is unique and built differently. In the past, surgeons used to say after joint replacement surgery, that a patient’s artificial joints would last about 10 to 15 years. However, with modern materials and updated surgical techniques, current studies and evidence-based research show that approximately 96 percent of today’s modern joint replacements, especially knee replacements, will still be functioning past the 15-year mark.

Your joint replacement does not necessarily have a warranty, per se, as each patient is unique in both their anatomy and their level of physical activity. Sometimes a patient is notified by their surgeon that they will require revision surgery. This means that the patient will need to undergo a second surgery to fix their problem. The failure of a joint replacement can occur for variety of different reasons.  These include infection, trauma, loosening of the implant, degeneration (wearing out), or poor positioning of the original implant.

For patients who are suffering from debilitating chronic pain due to degenerative diseases such as arthritis, people who are candidates for joint replacement often suffer from severe joint pain, inflammation, stiffness, muscle weakness, and limited mobility. Therefore, undergoing joint replacement surgery can help relieve their pain, improve their mobility, and most importantly, improve their quality of life immensely.

With a drastic improvement in surgical techniques, high-quality care and materials, such as metal, ceramic, and plastic, the new artificial joint is attached the bone, allowing the bone to grow into the implant. Physical therapy will be recommended afterwards by your surgeon, as rehabilitation will dramatically increase mobility, help with balance, and decrease the recovery time, giving the patient a higher quality of life in the end.

At Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence, we utilize the most advanced surgical methods available today, including minimally invasive procedures whenever possible.

To learn how you can make your joint replacement last, and if you may be a candidate for joint replacement surgery, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050, or request an appointment online.

Symptoms of Trigger Finger

The complex anatomy of the hand consists of 27 bones, along with muscles, joints, tendons, nerves, and ligaments. If any of these structures become injured, pain and loss of function can put a damper on almost all activities. In other words, you rely on the use of your hands for almost everything you do on a daily basis. However, when you have constant pain and discomfort in your hands or wrists, these simple tasks become more difficult and uncomfortable. Some conditions, such as trigger finger, are not only painful, but also affect your appearance and function.

Any hand or wrist problem causing pain, swelling, discoloration, numbness or a tingling sensation, or abnormal shape, that persists for more than two or three days should be evaluated by your orthopedist to establish the cause, and allow treatment as early as possible. Early diagnosis and early treatment generally give the best results.

So, you notice that one day when making a fist, you try to straighten your fingers afterwards, when one catches when attempting to bring it back into a straight position, causing pain. After you go to a doctor to check it out, they diagnose you with a condition called trigger finger, caused by overuse.

Trigger finger, known medically as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition that causes pain, locking, popping or clicking of the fingers or thumb when the hand is opened or closed. Muscles in your forearm attach to tendons that run all the way down to the bones at the ends of your fingers. These muscles are what help you bend your fingers into a fist. 

The reason why we are able to open and close our hand is due to our tendons being pulled close to the bones of the fingers by pulleys. If these pulleys become too thick, stiff, tight or swollen, commonly due to inflammation, this causes the finger to “trigger” or get stuck when trying to straighten your fingers after being in a fist. Therefore, if the tendon cannot glide freely, trigger finger occurs.

Symptoms of trigger finger can occur differently for people, which is why it is not always easy to identify the cause. In its early stages, trigger finger can cause pain on the palm of your hand, or on the back side of a finger. Trigger finger causes inflammation, creating symptoms of stiffness and swelling. As the muscles and tendons in our fingers give us the ability to move, when someone is diagnosed with trigger finger, there can be a painful snapping sensation when opening and closing the hand. Often one of our fingers can get stuck in a certain position, making it painful and impossible to straighten or bend it.

To learn more about trigger finger and its symptoms, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online.

The 411 on Gout

Gout is a painful form of arthritis, characterized by inflammation that occurs when uric acid builds up and crystalizes in your joints. Symptoms include painful inflammation, tenderness and redness around the affected joint. Some people experience gout in different joints of the body, such as the knees or elbows, but it most commonly effects the big toe.

If you have high levels of uric acid in your blood, you may have a condition called hyperuricemia. Your liver normally metabolizes uric acid, and the kidneys get rid of it when you go to the bathroom. The levels of uric acid build up when not enough uric acid is eliminated, or too much uric acid is being produced. The purines in our food which increases the uric acid levels in our blood, are known to bring on gout attacks.

The uric acid buildup takes a crystalline form, and often finds a home in the joints. Since our joints need to stay lubricated and run very smoothly, a buildup of crystals will cause inflammation and pain, known as gout. When you are experiencing a gout attack, the affected joint will feel hot, swollen, turn red and will become very sensitive to the touch. The onset of pain during a gout attack will increase for 24-48 hours if left untreated.

Blood and urine tests are always recommended by your doctor in order to measure the level of uric acid in your blood. Taking in fluids dilutes the levels of uric acid, so drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day is ideal for breaking down uric acid levels, and as a result gout pain may decrease.

If you are experiencing gout flare-ups, it could be one of a few reasons and risk factors: males over 40 years old, family members with a history of gout, obesity, aspirin medications, a diet consisting of high purine foods or high-fructose drinks. Heavy drinking also contributes to elevated uric acid levels.

More often than not, gout has to do with our diet and what we are eating. It’s best to stay clear of certain foods when you have high uric acid, have had gout attacks in the past or family members that have had it as well. Certain medications can help control uric acid levels, and your orthopedic doctor can recommend the best treatment option for you.

While gout may seem like something that you can manage, it’s best to get it treated right away before inflammation and pain turn into more serious injury or disease. To learn more about gout and how to avoid it, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence in Colorado Springs at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online.

ACL Tears vs PCL Tears

Our knee is important, as it provides us with a foundation to stand on. The knee provides stability and mobility, and is vital to all types of movement, especially for athletes. If you ever had any sort of injury, especially a knee injury, you probably appreciate how your knees power you through various activities. To avoid knee injuries, it helps to understand how your knees work and what you can do to protect them.

The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) are the two major ligaments in the knee that work together to provide stability in the knee. They cross each other and form an ‘X’ which allows the knee to flex and extend without side to side movement. ACL and PCL tears are two of the most common and most serious knee injuries that happen to athletes. When you get an injury to the anterior cruciate ligaments or the posterior cruciate ligament, there are slightly different symptoms. 

What is an ACL Tear?

The ACL is one of the four main ligaments within the knee that connect the femur to the tibia. The knee is essentially a hinged joint that is held together by the medial collateral (MCL), lateral collateral (LCL), anterior cruciate (ACL) and posterior cruciate (PCL) ligaments.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a tough band of tissue joining the thigh bone to the shin bone at the knee joint, providing much needed stability. It runs diagonally through the inside of the knee, and when there is too much stress on the ligaments, it can result in a sprain or worse, the ligaments can be stretched too far or snap, causing the ACL to tear. 

ACL Tear Symptoms:

  • Pain in the knee
  • Swelling, which builds up over twenty-four hours
  • Loss of complete range of motion of the knee
  • Tenderness to palpation of the joint line
  • Pain and inability to walk on the affected leg
  • Unstable knee

The most common treatment for a torn ACL is arthroscopic surgery and ACL reconstruction.

 What is a PCL Tear?

The posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) is located in the middle of the knee, next to the anterior cruciate ligament. While the ACL helps prevent your thigh bone (femur) from moving too far forward, the PCL helps prevent your shin bone (tibia) from moving too far backward. 

The PCL is lesser known because it is not injured as frequently as the ACL. However, injuries to the PCL should be taken seriously, as this ligament significantly affects the stability of the knee. Injuries to the PCL typically occur when the tibia is hit by an outside force while the leg is bent. One big difference between PCL and ACL tears is that most PCL tears are only partial tears, whereas the ACL usually completely tears.

PCL Tear Symptoms:

  • Pain in the knee
  • Immediate swelling of the knee
  • Difficulty or impossibility of walking on the affected leg
  • The knee feels like it is going to “give out”

To diagnose and treat tears to the ACL and PCL, your doctor will evaluate your injury by checking the severity of your knee instability. An MRI will most likely be done to get a closer look at the knee joint. If the diagnosis is an ACL or PCL tear, arthroscopic surgery can be done to repair the torn ligaments. Recovery can be lengthy for this injury, and will most likely require extensive rehabilitation, such as physical therapy.

The doctors at Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence will do their best to get you back to optimal function as quickly as possible. To learn more about ACL and PCL tears, and how we can help, call our office at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment. You can also schedule an appointment online.

The Overlap Between an Orthopedic Specialist and a Rheumatologist

If you are one of the 100 million Americans in the United States suffering from joint pain, and the unpleasant effects associated with it, you know how difficult carrying out or completing everyday tasks can be. Getting healthcare is a privilege and a right, however, not everyone is fortunate enough to receive good healthcare. Good healthcare depends largely on the specialist you see, and for joint pain it can get tricky. Doing research, and talking to others can help you choose the right doctor.

In getting an accurate diagnosis, a visit to your primary care doctor is usually the first step. They can give you a basic diagnosis, and refer you to a specialist such as an orthopedist or rheumatologist for a closer look and second opinion. Both a rheumatologist and orthopedist treat joint pain as part of their specialty, whether the pain is chronic or acute.

The main difference and overlap between an orthopedist and a rheumatologist is that an orthopedist is a surgical specialist and a rheumatologist is a medical specialist. Usually, first, a rheumatologist will give you a diagnosis, and monitor your condition/progression following the use of medications and other non-surgical treatments. If symptoms continue to persist, the rheumatologist will often refer you to an orthopedic surgeon to see if you are a candidate for surgery, usually as a last resort, if no other treatments could alleviate the problem. 

Visit an orthopedist if you have experienced:

  • Joint or musculoskeletal pain following an injury
  • Hip or knee pain that gradually increases when bearing weight
  • Severe joint pain interfering with typical functioning
  • Moderate or advanced arthritis in the hips or knees
  • Previous unsuccessful treatment of joint pain
  • Need surgery – Joint Replacement

See a rheumatologist if you have experienced:

  • Pain involving multiple joints
  • New joint pain not associated with an injury
  • Joint or musculoskeletal pain associated with fever, fatigue, rash, morning stiffness or chest pain
  • Joint pain coinciding with back pain
  • Joint pain with psoriasis
  • Muscular pain with or without any other symptoms
  • Recurring headaches or muscle aches
  • Back pain with or without leg pain
  • Ongoing symptoms, such as unexplained fever, sweating or weight loss

At Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence, we understand how chronic pain, or pain in general can disrupt your life. At our practice, you will find a multi-disciplinary team of specialists that will diagnose and treat your joint pain. Whether your pain is caused by disease or an injury, our orthopaedic surgeons, podiatric surgeon, and physical therapists will provide the relief you need to get you back to doing the things you love. If further care is needed, we will refer you to the right specialist, to receive the best care possible.

To request an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050. You can also request an appointment online today.

What to Do If You’ve Dislocated Your Hip?

Your hip is a ball and socket joint making it one of our most flexible joints, hence allowing greater range of motion than almost every other joint in the body, sans the shoulder. A smooth tissue, the articular cartilage, covers the surface of the ball and the socket. It creates a low friction surface that helps the bones glide easily across each other. The acetabulum is surrounded by strong fibrocartilage called the labrum. The labrum forms a lining around the socket, creating a tight seal, helping to provide stability to the hip joint

When they are healthy, it takes great force to hurt them. However, playing sports, running, overuse or falling, can all sometimes lead to hip injuries. These include strains, bursitis, dislocations, and fractures.

Certain diseases also lead to hip injuries or problems. Osteoarthritis can cause pain and limited motion. Osteoporosis of the hip causes weak bones that break easily, both of which are more common in older people.

What is A Hip Dislocation?

A traumatic hip dislocation occurs when the head of the thigh bone (femur) is forced out of its socket in the hip bone (pelvis). When there is a hip dislocation, the femoral head is pushed either backward out of the socket, or forward. It typically takes a major force, like a fall, to dislocate the hip. Car collisions and falls from significant heights are common causes and, as a result, other injuries like broken bones often occur with the dislocation. A hip dislocation is a serious medical emergency, where immediate treatment is necessary.

Symptoms of A Hip Dislocation:

  •  Severe chronic and persistent hip pain
  • Numbness in the foot, leg, or ankle
  • Limited mobility

If you have suffered an injury to your hip or think you may have dislocated it, request an appointment with the Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 for immediate treatment. 

Questions to Ask Your Podiatrist

A podiatrist is a licensed health care professional who specializes in the care of feet, ankles and legs. A podiatrist is also a fully trained foot surgeon with a medical designation of DPM (doctor of podiatric medicine) instead of an MD (medical doctor). A licensed podiatrist can diagnose and treat medical conditions of the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg. Some PDM’s focus on one area of care, such as diabetic complications that affect the foot. If you visit a podiatrist, here are some questions you might want to ask.

Questions to Ask a Podiatrist

During your visit, the doctor is probably going to examine your feet as well as take a full medical history. This makes sense because the health of your feet is part of your overall health and wellbeing. This is especially true when you have other related medical conditions such as diabetes, poor circulation, nerve damage, kidney issues or previous injuries of the foot, ankle, or leg. Your podiatrist may also take X-rays, an MRI, and observe the way that you stand, run, or walk.

During the exam, you may have questions about topics such as foot pain, numbness, bunions, or other foot-related topics. Just as you would with any other health professional, it is always okay to ask questions when you do not understand something. You can ask what kind of tests the doctor is going to run to determine the underlying cause of your condition. You may also want to ask about the doctor’s experience treating your specific kind of issue. 

Ask if there is a medication that can help or if there are any advantages or disadvantages to the treatment they are recommending. You can always ask general questions too, such as what kinds of socks and shoes are right for you.

You can, for example, ask if bracing and rehabilitation can be used instead of (or alongside) surgery. You may also want to ask how to support your healing with exercise and diet, or ways that you can reduce your risk for re-injury in the future. Ask if the condition is chronic (ongoing) or acute (sudden), and if it’s possibly due to a medical condition or an injury. The kinds of questions you may want to ask the podiatrist will, of course, vary according to the specific issue that you are having treated.

Be sure to inform the podiatrist of any signs and symptoms that you are aware of. For example, if you hear clicks when you rotate the outside of your ankle, or if you are having numbness, tingling, or any other symptoms related to the care of your feet and legs.

If you, or a loved one is looking for exceptional care of the foot, ankle and leg, we are here to help. Please call the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 or request an appointment online. Don’t let foot pain get in the way of your busy life. Call today for a better tomorrow.

Proper Sports Techniques to Prevent Hip Pain

The hip joint is one the large joints of the body that helps the thigh move forward and backward. The hip joint also rotates when sitting and with changes of direction when walking. The hip joint is where the ball of the thigh bone (femur) joins the pelvis at a socket called the acetabulum. There is cartilage covering both the bone of the femur and the acetabulum of the pelvis in the hip joint. A joint lining tissue, called synovium, surrounds the hip joint. The synovium tissue produces fluid that lubricates the joint and provides nutrients to the cartilage of the joint. 

The singer Shakira had it right when she says “Hips Don’t Lie” in her hit song. It seems that until our hips are in pain, we don’t give them much thought. We use our hips every day, when we walk, stand, sit and workout. In fact, there are few times when we are not using our hips, especially when playing sports or exercising.

If your hips are not working properly, other movements and muscles will suffer. Your hips are able to withstand a great amount of stress, but if they are used improperly, an uneven amount of stress can be transferred elsewhere in the body where it is not meant to go. Over time, the muscle that is compensating for the weakened hip muscles will begin to feel tight, decreasing agility and speed, as well as taking longer to recover. Reducing participation in painful activities is the most important step a patient can take. Here are some other tips to help reduce pain:

Modifying activity: Athletes who must perform repetitive movements will need to avoid painful activities and modify their training during the rehabilitation process.

Icing: Applying ice after exercise may diminish the pain and other symptoms, such as swelling.

Medication: Physicians frequently prescribe ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce inflammation and pain. Physicians also may prescribe injections of steroids or anesthetic to both diagnose the source and treat the pain.

Rehabilitation: Physical therapy is often needed to reduce pain and improve function. Therapy will include heat and/or ice to decrease inflammation and stretching/strengthening exercises for specific hip muscles. The therapy will progress to more functional activities, simulating sport-specific motions. As the symptoms improve, a specific training program will allow proper, incremental return to full activity.

To learn more about hip pain and how to treat it, call the Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment, or request one online.

Can Your Orthopedic Doctor Treat Fibromyalgia

You may have heard about fibromyalgia on television advertisements, or from someone you know. However, without a visit to an orthopedic surgeon, most people may not know what this condition exactly is, or the symptoms that come with it.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes aches and pain all over the body. People with fibromyalgia also have “tender points” throughout their bodies. Tender points are specific places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs that hurt when pressure is put on them.

Fibromyalgia affects as many as five million Americans aged 18 and older. Most people with fibromyalgia are women (about 80 – 90 percent), however, men and children also can have the disorder. Most people are diagnosed during middle age. Fibromyalgia can occur by itself, but people with certain other diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other types of arthritis, may be more likely to have it. Individuals who have a close relative with fibromyalgia are also more likely to develop it themselves.

How is fibromyalgia diagnosed?

People with fibromyalgia often see many doctors before being diagnosed. One reason for this may be that pain and fatigue, the main symptoms of fibromyalgia, also are symptoms of many other conditions. Therefore, doctors must often rule out other possible causes of these symptoms before diagnosing fibromyalgia.  Your orthopedic surgeon can treat your fibromyalgia based on these criteria:

1.       A history of widespread pain lasting more than 3 months: Pain must be present in both the right and left sides of the body as well as above and below the waist.

2.       Presence of tender points: The body has 18 sites that are possible tender points. For a fibromyalgia diagnosis, a person must have 11 or more tender points. For a point to be “tender,” the patient must feel pain when pressure is put on the site. People who have fibromyalgia may feel pain at other sites, too, but those 18 sites on the body are used for diagnosis.

How is Fibromyalgia Treated?

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat, as much so as it can be to diagnose. It’s important to find a doctor who has treated others with fibromyalgia. Treatment often requires a team approach. The team may include your orthopedic doctor, a physical therapist, and possibly other health care providers.

To learn more about fibromyalgia, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint. The ball portion of the joint consists of the rounded head of the upper arm bone (humerus), and the socket portion is made up of a depression (glenoid) in the shoulder blade. The humeral head (ball) fits into the glenoid (socket), creating the joint that allows you to move your shoulder. The joint is surrounded and lined by cartilage, muscles, and tendons that provide support and stability and make it easy for you to move. It’s your shoulder joint that lets you rotate your arm in all directions. Your range of motion depends on the proper articulation of the humeral head upon the glenoid.

In a healthy shoulder joint, the surfaces of these bones where the ball and socket rub together are very smooth, and covered with a tough protective tissue called cartilage. Arthritis causes damage to the bone surfaces and cartilage. These damaged surfaces eventually become painful as they rub together. With that said, there are many different reasons why you could be feeling shoulder pain, including injury, infection, and arthritis.

Shoulder pain can be either acute or chronic, depending on when a diagnosis was made and how long the pain or disability has been felt for. An acute shoulder injury occurs suddenly either through direct impact, by overstretching a muscle, tendon or ligament, overusing a muscle or tendon, or twisting of the shoulder joint. However, if pain becomes chronic, it is important that you see an orthopedic doctor. While chronic pain is considered pain that lasts longer than six months, if the pain doesn’t seem right you should seek help as soon as possible.

Many shoulder problems are caused by the breakdown of soft tissues in the shoulder region. Using the shoulder too much can cause the soft tissue to break down faster as people get older. Doing manual labor and playing sports can also cause shoulder problems, whether from overuse or by sudden injury. The most common shoulder pain problems are:

  •       Dislocation
  •       Separation
  •       Rotator cuff disease
  •       Rotator cuff tear
  •       Frozen shoulder
  •       Fracture
  •       Arthritis

Whatever the reason, continuing to suffer with shoulder pain shouldn’t have to be your only option. To learn more about the shoulder and the most common causes of shoulder pain, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment, or request one online.