Healthy Joints are the Bee's Knees:

Faster, easier options for joint replacement

Hip, knee and shoulder replacements just aren’t what they used to be—thankfully.

Today’s improved joint replacements require shorter hospital stays and recovery times. As a result, these surgeries are more often a first choice for those with active lives rather than a last-resort option for the severely disabled. And joint replacement patients are getting younger: A decade ago patients were more likely to be in their 60s or older, but surgeons now mostly treat patients who are age 50 and older.

Patients today are not willing to live with disability. That’s why replacements are occurring more commonly than they used to,” says Dr. Jennifer FitzPatrick of PMG Orthopedics. “People are extending their lifestyles and participating in activities our parents or grandparents would not,” adds Dr. Rickland Likes of PMG Orthopedics.

Not only are the typical joint replacement patients different than they were a decade or two ago, so is the surgery itself. Most of the physicians who specialize in joint replacements today have completed hundreds--and in many cases, thousands--of these surgeries and know how to anticipate complications.

How it Works

Your hip, knee and shoulder joints are lined with cartilage that helps them move easily. When that cartilage is worn away by arthritis or other diseases, it hurts to move the joint. During joint replacement surgery, the damaged joint lining is replaced by a metal, plastic and/or ceramic prosthesis, generally a ball and a socket.

Joint replacement parts come in many more sizes than they used to, adjusted for women and men as well as for the size of the patient. The more customized parts mean the replacement joints fit better, cause less pain and require less recovery time, says Dr. Robert Thomas.

Although any artificial part eventually will wear out, new ceramic bearing technology, rather than stainless steel parts, can help replacements last longer, says Dr. Thomas. A typical replacement joint will last 20 years, but the longevity varies depending on the patient and joint condition.

MRI imaging has helped surgeons better align replacement joints, adds Dr. Lucas King, which also leads to a better fit, a shorter hospital stay and overall a more positive experience.

Non-surgical options

Before exploring joint replacement, your doctor typically will have you try a range of over-the-counter and prescription remedies for pain management. An arthritis brace--a custom device that is more substantial than an Ace bandage--can help shift your gait and alignment, thus reducing pain when the joint is used. Other braces may keep a joint warm, also reducing pain.

Cortisone injections, which typically combine a corticosteroid medication and a local anesthetic, may help reduce pain for up to three months. Dr. Mark Porter says some of his patients repeat these injections for years and successfully ward off the need for surgery. In addition, weight loss can help decrease the strain on arthritic joints.

Up and at 'em

If surgery does become necessary, rehab typically begins right away after the operation, which generally takes up to two and a half hours for a hip or knee replacement, and two to four hours for a shoulder replacement. Most surgeons like to have their patients up and walking (with assistance, of course) the same day as their surgery, Dr. Likes says.

The hospital stay for joint replacement usually is three days. You’ll receive physical therapy starting in the hospital, and then either at home or as an outpatient, likely three times a week. You’ll probably be able to participate in your favorite activities again, possibly within six to eight weeks. But Dr. King urges sticking to low-impact sports like walking, golf and swimming.

“I do not get upset about a basketball game at a family picnic,” he says. “But the heavy pounding of joining a basketball team can be hard.” Adds Dr. King: “After surgery, patients feel more natural. They feel like they can do stuff, the things they did when they were young.”

Making the decision

Although some joint replacement surgery is necessitated by a fall, a car accident or other trauma, the more common reason is the cumulative effects of arthritis and chronic diseases, says Dr. Thomas.

The decision to have surgery is a gray area that tends to be driven by the patient’s needs and desires, he says: “It boils down to a quality of life issue. When can they no longer tolerate hip or joint pain?”

“We used to look at the X-rays, but they don’t necessarily mean a patient needs to have a joint replacement,” explains Dr. Thomas. “You have to talk to the patient. If the pain doesn’t interfere with their lifestyle, then it doesn’t matter what the X-rays say.”

5 reasons to consider joint replacement surgery

  1. Severe joint pain or stiffness that inhibits everyday activities
  2. Moderate or severe joint pain while resting
  3. Chronic joint inflammation and swelling that isn’t helped by rest or medication
  4. Joint deformity
  5. No major improvement in joint pain after other less-invasive treatments

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Joint Replacement Class Video

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3676 Parker Blvd, Suite 390

Jamie Engel, MD

Specialties: Orthopedic Surgery

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

3676 Parker Boulevard, Suite 390

Pueblo, Colorado 81008

Main: 719.595.7780

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FitzPatrick

Jennifer FitzPatrick, MD

Specialties: Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

3676 Parker Boulevard, Suite 390

Pueblo, Colorado 81008

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FitzPatrick

Greg Hosler, MD

Specialties: Primary Care Orthopedics

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

3676 Parker Boulevard, Suite 390

Pueblo, Colorado 81008

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Likes

Rickland Likes, DO

Specialties: Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

3676 Parker Boulevard, Suite 390

Pueblo, Colorado 81008

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Shane D. Rothermel, MD

Specialties: Hip and Knee Joint Arthroplasty, Orthopedic Surgery

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

3676 Parker Boulevard, Suite 390

Pueblo, Colorado 81008

Main: 719.595.7780

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Anthony D'Aurora, PA-C

Specialties: Orthopedics

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

3676 Parker Boulevard, Suite 390

Pueblo, Colorado 81008

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Kelli Henderson, PA-C

Specialties: Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

3676 Parker Boulevard, Suite 390

Pueblo, Colorado 81008

Main: 719.595.7780

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Catherine Fitzgerald, PA-C

Specialties: Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

3676 Parker Boulevard, Suite 390

Pueblo, Colorado 81008

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Theresa Kuhn, ACNP-BC, FNP-C

Specialty: Orthopedics

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

3676 Parker Boulevard, Suite 390

Pueblo, Colorado 81008

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Kimberly Merelman, PA-C

Specialty: Orthopedics

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

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Pueblo, Colorado 81008

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Aaron Molencamp, PA-C

Specialty: Orthopedic Surgery

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

3676 Parker Boulevard, Suite 390

Pueblo, Colorado 81008

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Diana Pacheco, NP

Specialty: Orthopedics

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

3676 Parker Boulevard, Suite 390

Pueblo, Colorado 81008

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Jason Wright, PA-C

Specialty: Orthopedics

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

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3676 Parker Blvd., Suite 310

King

Lucas King, MD

Specialties: Sports Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine

ParkWest Medical Office Complex

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Franklin "Pete" Sloan Jr., PA-C

Specialty: Orthopedic Surgery

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Through continuing education, expansion of treatment opportunities, and Parkview Medical Center’s Joint Center educational program, our staff embraces and excels in the latest technologies and procedures. Parkview Orthopedics offers patients comprehensive treatment and surgery services that foster healing and pain relief.

In addition to general orthopedic practice, each of our physicians focuses on or has fellowship training in one or more sub-specialties. Besides their respective educational accomplishments, each physician is board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, representing the highest standard available in the orthopedic industry. The group’s strength comes from a special partnership - a team of physicians genuinely focused on bringing patients the best in care of orthopedic injuries and abnormalities. No matter your age, condition, or level of activity, we have experienced physicians to help you. Physicians and staff partner with their patients to offer timely access to the most appropriate treatments for their orthopedic conditions.