New techniques change knee and hip replacements - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New techniques change knee and hip replacements

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by Doreen Gentzler

Less cutting means less pain and a quicker recovery. There’s some new high-tech medicine that could make a big difference to aging baby boomers whose bodies aren't keeping up with their lifestyles.

"These are people that are working, and so they are not going home to their retirement life. They've got to get back to work," says orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andy Ingh.

Carolyn Smith is on the recovery fast track just a few weeks after total knee replacement surgery. A few years ago, that was impossible. The problem with knee replacement is it's a painful process. It requires a long period of rehab. Normally three months or more, in rehab, after a knee replacement.

But that's changing. Doctors are now doing knee replacements with a minimally invasive technique that cuts recovery time in half by protecting the muscle around the knee.

Doctors use special instruments that allow them to replace the joints through much smaller incisions, half the size of traditional surgery. They can avoid cutting muscle this way, and the patient can get moving much sooner.

Shorter recovery time, less pain, and there's another significant advantage to the new hip replacement technique.

But the new techniques won't work for everyone who needs a joint replacement. A good candidate can't be overweight, must be in good overall health and motivated to tackle the rigorous physical therapy program that follows.

The minimally invasive joint replacements are usually covered by insurance.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com