As my own hairline goes the way of the buffalo and my beltline gradually expands, I take comfort in knowing that as I approach my fifties I have plenty of company–particularly on the golf course. Studies show that there are about six million U.S. golfers over the age of fifty.
Unfortunately, older players can be afflicted with various medical conditions that might make playing golf painful or even dangerous. From an orthopedic point of view, arthritis of the hip and knee are common and painful problems that can ruin an otherwise good day of golf.
Osteoarthritis usually develops slowly, taking years to show symptoms and be visible on X-rays. Early complaints may include an ache or a twinge of discomfort in the joint with activity (such as golf) or with weather changes. (No, your Aunt Sadie wasn’t crazy when she used to announce at the dinner table that she could tell it was going to rain soon because her knees were acting up.) In its late stages, osteoarthritis of the hip and knee can render an otherwise healthy person unable to perform common daily activities such as walking, sleeping, or heaven forbid, playing golf.
There are lots of nonsurgical treatment options for arthritic joints including rest, weight loss, medication, physical therapy, and injection treatments. These measures are usually the first course of action to combat the pain and stiffness of arthritis F95zone .
Total joint replacement–prosthetic replacement of the arthritic hip, knee–is the ultimate surgical treatment for advanced arthritis that does not respond to nonsurgical measures. Simply put, a total joint prosthesis replaces the damaged joint surfaces (the knee hinge or the hip ball-and-socket) with a device made from various combinations of metal and plastic.
While total joint replacement represents a great advance in medical science, it is important to remember that the replacement is not a normal joint. Complications such as premature wear of the metal and plastic components or loosening of the prosthesis frequently require revision of the prosthesis–a technically demanding procedure that all orthopedic surgeons want to avoid whenever possible. Surgeons and biomechanical researchers are continually trying to identify what factors hasten the loosening and/or premature mechanical failure of total joint prostheses.