Staying Active

Fort Hamilton Hospital focuses on orthopedic medicine to meet the area’s demand.

By Deborah Rutledge

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that as we age, our incidence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis also increases, from 29 percent among people ages 45 to 64, to 49 percent among 65-year-olds and up.

Today’s aging population is not OK with that.

“People are remaining active well into their 50s, 60s and beyond—they’re demanding more of their bodies as they age,” says Dr. Philip Stickney, an orthopedic surgeon who joined the staff at Fort Hamilton Hospital to help meet the need. “They are much more independent as they get older.”

This makes them much less willing to put up with the pain that comes with the breakdown of the musculoskeletal system that orthopedic care covers: bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves and tendons. It also makes them willing candidates for restorative or corrective procedures like hip, knee and shoulder replacements.

An aging population dedicated to activity plus advancements in technology are making orthopedics an in-demand specialty, says Phillip Boarman, director of Orthopedics, Rehab, Sports Medicine, & Neuro for Fort Hamilton Hospital, which is one of eight Kettering Health Network Hospitals in southwest Ohio.

There are more than 20,000 active orthopedic surgeons in the country, he says, and the focus is being addressed locally.

“In the Hamilton community, Kettering Health Network has identified this growing community need and has been responsive to growing the amount of high quality orthopedic practitioners to support this community need,” Boarman says. “In addition to the aging population, the rise of competitive sports in school systems has warranted a greater involvement with orthopedic care for preventative care and, when needed, treatment of injuries.”

With its proposed indoor sport complex slated for operation at the former Champion Mills, Hamilton may find itself poised tobecome more of a hot spot for orthopedics.

But when it comes to the high incidence of low back pain and cartilage degeneration surrounding the spinal canal, Stickney says the key is to first pinpoint the cause of the pain, then exhaust every conservative measure to alleviate it before resorting to surgery.

“Back issues can mimic problems related to the hip as well as the knees,” he says, so it’s essential to evaluate from where the problems are originating that might be causing numbness, burning or pain.

Often, with aging spines, the problems relate to the degeneration of joints in the spine that are causing pressure on the nerves. Although the majority of arthritis sufferers are predisposed to develop it by genetics, there are environmental factors that influence how severe it and how fast it develops, Stickney says.

Carrying too much weight has a significant effect, while smoking has a dramatic impact on the progression of arthritis, he adds.

The conservative means of removing pressure on nerves include inflammation medication, physical therapy or steroid injections. Surgical solutions include removing spurs and scar tissue or stripping discs, Stickney says.

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