- Strong joints keep you active, which can help you maintain your health
as you age
- Ensure your joints are in prime condition with diet and exercise
- If you need to treat joint issues, look for a reputable orthopedic center
As you get older, you may develop new sensations in your joints, whether
it’s a tightness in the hips or a popping sound in your knee while
you are using the stairs. Those kinds of changes are often normal. However,
they can serve as a reminder about the importance of joint health as we
age, not just in terms of
preventive care, but also for finding a top-notch facility if you do need to look into
hip or knee replacement.
“Staying active is important not just for your musculoskeletal health
but also for your health in general,” says
Kevin Khajavi, MD, Chief of the Orthopedic Department at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton,
California. “People who are able
to exercise and be active have better cardiovascular stamina, lower risk of diabetes, increased
lung function and less risk of
obesity. Exercise is also crucial for muscle tone, flexibility and balance.”
The best thing people can do for overall joint health is to keep their
muscles as strong as possible, Dr. Khajavi says. “As I tell my patients,
their muscles are shock absorbers for their joints. The weaker the muscles,
the more pressure that puts on their joints...which can often lead to
pain with activities”.
To increase muscle tone, Dr. Khajavi recommends low-impact exercises such
as swimming, cycling, walking and elliptical trainers. “Those exercises
do a great job of not only working on strength but also improving cardiovascular
function. More importantly, they avoid the pounding that running or jumping
might put on knees and hips,” he says.
It’s also important to maintain a healthy weight, as too many extra
pounds can exert excessive pressure on joints. “Patients who are
obese typically will experience increased joint pain, so maintaining a
healthy diet will help reduce weight and indirectly minimize joint discomfort.”
As you age, you should keep up with regular visits with your primary care
physician. “Sometimes a medical issue that is preventative can lead
to more significant problems down the line if not treated,” Dr.
Khajavi says. “If you can address those, you can better maintain
your health and stay more active, and that will help your musculoskeletal
health as well.”
But say those aches are something more, such as a joint pain that doesn’t
go away after a few days. “If the pain is chronic and persistent,
perhaps due to an injury, then it’s time to come in and see a doctor.
Or if the pain has gotten to the point where it limits your function and
you’re no longer able to do the things that you enjoy, that’s
another reason to go in for an evaluation,” says Dr. Khajavi.
If you visit an orthopedic doctor, he or she can run tests to determine
if there is a problem that needs further attention. “That might
mean physical therapy to work on strength, or medication to treat inflammation
of the joint,” Dr. Khajavi says. “Sometimes if there is a
more significant problem such as a tear or advanced arthritic changes,
there are surgical options that can get you back on your feet. But non-operative
options are typically indicated as a first line of treatment for most
If surgery becomes the only option, it’s important to find a reputable,
top-quality orthopedic center where the physicians have a great deal of
expertise in the field, says
Andrew Yun, MD, medical director of Joint Replacement Services at Saint John’s
Health Center in Santa Monica, California. Saint John’s is one of
three Providence St. Joseph Health facilities — as well as Hoag
Orthopedic Institute and Swedish Medical Center — recently named
among the 17
top hip and knee surgery hospitals in America by the publication
Orthopedics This Week (paywall).
“You want to look for a comprehensive facility with a highly trained
staff that focuses on all aspects of the patient experience,” Dr.
Yun says. “Of course, that includes the actual surgery, but it also
encompasses pre- and post-operative care.”
Dr. Khajavi agrees. St. Jude Medical Center is one of just 62 U.S. hospitals
to receive the prestigious Advanced Certification from The Joint Commission
for total hip and knee replacement. The hospital has streamlined its protocols
for joint replacement to ensure optimal care at all stages of the procedure.
That includes preoperative physical therapy to strengthen muscles, classes
to fully prepare patients for surgery and a goal to have patients up and
moving around shortly after the procedure.
“We tell patients we want to have them completely optimized at the
time of surgery so that they can have a great result,” Dr. Khajavi
says. “Because of the tremendous work our team has put into our
state-of-the-art protocols, our patients are seeing a significant improvement
in their outcomes. That means our patients become mobile sooner, their
complication rates are lower and their satisfaction rates are at the highest
For more information about joint replacement, talk with a physician at
one of these locations, or find a Providence St. Joseph Health
location near you:
St. Jude Medical Center
Hoag Orthopedic Institute
Providence Saint John’s Health Center
Swedish Medical Center
Kadlec Medical Center
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical
care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.