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Knee Doc Advocates Exercise, Says Surgery Getting Easier

Cincinnati knee and hip surgeon Michael Swank
Dr. Michael Swank

By Brent Coleman

Cincinnati knee and hip surgeon Michael Swank says people feeling the pain and restriction of arthritic joints should attempt to avoid surgery in a systematic way.

First, he said, exercise daily.  “You only need to do 20 to 30 minutes a day.  People with arthritis normally don’t, but they can,” he said.

“The safest form of exercise would be water aquatics,” he said.  “Then bicycling – either stationary or elliptical – then walking on a treadmill or outside.”

Swank, who is Medical Director of the Joint Replacement Center at the Jewish Hospital and practices with Reconstructive Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, encourages walkers to get a good pair of shoes with quality, shock absorbing mid-soles.  Second, he said, lose weight.  And he doesn’t mean have lap band surgery.

To further attempt to eliminate pain, people with osteoarthritis can – in this order – take Tylenol, an over the counter anti-inflammatory or prescription anti-inflammatory.  Beyond that, options include getting localized injections of steroids or hyaluronic acid.

But if surgery is necessary, Swank said the process is much easier to bear than it used to be.  Partial knee replacements, where only one or two knee parts are replaced and the anterior cruciate ligament is kept intact, are becoming more common, he said.

In addition, computer generated custom cutting guides allow surgeons’ incisions to be less invasive, and great advancements have been made in pain management and rehabilitation, he said.

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