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What is Preventive Orthopedics?

Orthopedic problems are a common occurrence in active and aging individuals. Preventive orthopedics is a treatment care focused on decreasing the risks of developing orthopedic illnesses, diseases, and conditions. Preventive orthopedics focuses on treating orthopedic problems before they occur or become worse, and before requiring serious treatment such as the need to perform surgery. Even though surgical intervention is the most effective method to treat several serious orthopedic conditions, they often come with significant potential problems, such as extended recovery times, risks of complications, and the likelihood of severe pain.

The best way to treat orthopedic conditions and prevent the possibility of surgery is through a preventative care plan devised by your orthopedist or orthopedic surgeon. The preventive measures recommended by your physician not only act as a determining factor to considerably reduce the risk of orthopedic issues in the future, but also boost the quality of your general well-being with great improvement in your health.

Common Orthopedic Problems

Some of the common orthopedic problems in active and aging individuals include:

  • Strains: Tearing or overstretching muscles or tendons can lead to a strain. Tendons are fibrous thick cords of tissue that attach bones to muscle.
  • Sprains: Tearing or overstretching the ligaments can lead to a sprain. Ligaments are tissues that attach bones to one another in a joint.
  • Fractures and Dislocations: A fracture is a break in the bone while a dislocation occurs when bones of a joint separate. These injuries are common in active individuals involved in high-intensity sports, as well as in older patients as a result of falls.
  • Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density resulting in brittle, fragile bones that are more susceptible to fractures. Women are at a higher risk than men for developing osteoporosis.
  • Osteoarthritis: Also called degenerative joint disease, it is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs most often in older people. This disease affects the tissue covering the ends of bones in a joint (cartilage). In a person with osteoarthritis, the cartilage becomes damaged and worn out causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and restricted movement in the affected joint.

Preventive Measures for Maintaining Orthopedic Health

Making a few simple changes to your lifestyle and diet can help improve bone health and avoid serious orthopedic problems. These preventive measures include:

  • Exercising regularly: Regular physical activity can lead to good health. Good exercises for all ages include walking, jogging, stretching, swimming, and biking on a level ground. However, make sure to avoid exercises that put too much stress on your joints like deep knee bending. But do work on enhancing your muscle mass irrespective of your age.
  • Developing a strong core: Strong core muscles assist you in balancing your body weight. Pilates and yoga are 2 good types of exercises to strengthen your core muscles and promote orthopedic health.
  • Stretching before exercise: Stretching is crucial to maintain flexibility, decrease stress injuries like strains and sprains, and improve overall performance. If you are planning to do high-impact aerobics or lift weights, make sure to work on adequate warm-up and stretching exercises before and after the main exercise. These types of exercises boost increased flexibility as well as assist to prevent muscle and joint injuries.
  • Wearing comfortable shoes: Supportive shoes facilitate proper alignment while walking. Women who wear high heels on a regular basis have an increased risk of developing knee pain and back pain. Hence, it is important to wear comfortable shoes that promote bone health.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: For every 10 pounds of weight gain, there is a thirty-six percent increased chance of developing osteoarthritis. Obesity also puts more weight on your joints, which can weaken muscles and make injuries more likely.
  • Getting regular checkups: Annual visits to your primary care physician are one good way to be aware of your orthopedic health. These yearly visits are especially important for elderly patients, who are more likely to develop arthritis and suffer injuries. Your primary care physician can also discuss additional preventive measures to protect your orthopedic and overall health.
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet: Start eating fresh fruits and vegetables and switch over to foods rich in calcium, vitamins, and essential minerals. A diet rich in calcium is essential to overall health and bone development.
  • Optimizing your workplace and home environments: A safe workplace and home environment that is free of hazards can go a long way in avoiding accidental injuries.
    • If you work at a computer, think about a standing workstation or other ergonomic setups that keep you mobile and less sedentary. To prevent conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, take frequent breaks, stretch your muscles often, and type softly.
    • If you do physical labor as part of your job, be aware of repetitive movements that could cause strains.
    • If your job requires heavy lifting, always stretch in advance and lift correctly using your core muscles.
    • Floor surfaces in public buildings are usually highly polished and might be slippery. Low-heeled shoes with rubber soles can be worn for such floorings.

Elderly individuals can optimize their home environment to prevent fall injuries and make the space easier to navigate. Some of the most effective home safeguards include:

  • Place items you use most often within your reach so that you can avoid a lot of bending. You can also use a tool called a “grabber” to reach items.
  • Remove all the loose wires from the floors and keep the floor clutter-free.
  • Check that all carpets are skid-proof or tacked to the floor
  • Make sure the furniture is in its usual place
  • Use anti-skid mats on the floor in the kitchen near the sink and stove and clean up spills as soon as they occur.
  • Keep the light switches within reach of your bed in the bedroom and always have a night light between the bedroom and bathroom. You can also keep an emergency light on your bedside for safety.
  • Install grab bars on the walls of the bathrooms and use non-skid rubber bathmats in the shower or tub.
  • Keep the staircase of the house well-lit and install sturdy handrails.
  • Use a walker or a cane for added stability during bad weather.
  • When the ground is slippery or wet due to rain or snow, warm boots with rubber soles can be used for added traction and to prevent numbing of your feet.
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons
  • Orthopaedic Trauma Association
  • Weill Cornell Medicine
  • AANA Advancing the Scope