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Stay active in winter months to combat the symptoms of arthritis.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area doesn’t see as much severe winter weather other parts of the country do, but temperatures still fall, which can impact arthritis sufferers. One study showed they experience more pain with each ten-degree drop in temperature, and fewer hours of daylight during the winter means many people spend less time exercising than they do other times of the year. A 2011 study confirmed this among arthritis sufferers in Chicago.

If you have either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, you probably already know that exercise is one way to ease the pain of your condition. Given that, here are some ways you can stay active during the winter months.

Exercise Outdoors

On warmer winter days, you can take part in a variety of outdoor activities that help reduce arthritis pain. These include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Cycling
  • Doing yard work
  • Playing golf

If you choose to exercise outdoors on cold or damp days, take precautions to keep your joints warm. Some things to do include:

  • Wearing loose layers of clothing
  • Putting on gloves or mittens
  • Using waterproof shoes or boots to keep feet warm and dry

Exercise Indoors

When winter weather is more severe, you can get your physical activity through a variety of exercises. Classes for some of them might be offered at community or recreational centers, while others you can do at home. Some of these include:

  • Practicing yoga, tai chi, or Pilates
  • Swimming or doing water aerobics
  • Using a treadmill or stationary bike
  • Working out with free weights or weight machines
  • Walking indoors at a mall

Stay Active Throughout the Day

Often you can get the physical activity you need as part of your daily routine. Some ways to do this include:

  • Doing household chores
  • In public buildings, using the stairs instead of taking the elevator or escalator
  • Doing simple exercises while watching TV
  • Dancing to your favorite music

At North Hills Hospital, we know how arthritis can make the simplest activities painful. Staying active year-round is one way to cope. But at times, joint replacement might be necessary. In those cases, our Joint Replacement Program is ready to help. You can reach its resource line at (817) 255-1691.

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Depending on the cause of your pain, both treatments could be necessary.

You reach overhead for something, and pain shoots through your shoulder. Or maybe even when your sitting still, you feel an ache. What we call the shoulder is made up of three bones and many tendons and muscles, and problems with any of them can lead to shoulder pain.

In 90 percent of shoulder injuries, patients respond to non-surgical treatments. Other times, surgery is necessary. Here’s a look at some common shoulder problems and how they’re treated.

Arthritis
Arthritis in the shoulder is commonly treated with one or more of these:

  • Changes in physical activity to reduce pain
  • Physical therapy exercise
  • Injections of corticosteroids
  • Application of ice and/or moist heat
  • For rheumatoid arthritis, prescription medication

In some cases, doctors perform arthroscopic surgery to clean out the joint. In extreme cases, a doctor might recommend a shoulder joint replacement.

Inflammation and Tears
In the shoulder, tendons and sacs of fluid called bursas can become inflamed. Shoulder tendonitis and bursitis are usually treated the same way as arthritis.

The muscles and tendons around the shoulder form the rotator cuff. When a tear occurs in the cuff, half of patients use the non-surgical treatments described above to reduce pain. Surgery is most often recommended if:

  • The tear is a result of an acute injury
  • The tear increases in size
  • Pain lasts more than six months
  • There is major loss of use of the shoulder

Dislocation
With a one-time dislocation, a doctor pops the upper arm bone back into the shoulder joint. Afterward, physical therapy helps reduce risk of recurrence. But if dislocations become frequent, surgery is often recommended.

Fracture
Surgery, including the insertion of pins or plates, can be an option, depending on the type of break. In some cases, simply wearing a sling is enough to let the bone heal. In either case, exercises to strengthen muscles are the norm.

Whatever is causing your shoulder paint, the Orthopedic Surgery Center at North Hills Hospital is ready to help. Our staff includes surgeons, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. Give us a call at (855)-5NHILLS for a physician referral.

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This summer, bring your little ones on the road without stressing out.

Having a new baby may make summer travel more complicated, but it doesn’t make it impossible. This year, enjoy your time away with these simple tips for new parents that will help make traveling with children much easier.

Consider renting baby gear.
If you’re heading out of town and it’s difficult to take items like a travel crib or rocker with you, consider renting baby gear at your destination. Do research online to find reputable businesses that rent items like cribs, car seats and other items to vacationers. If you have friends or family with young babies, you may be able to borrow items that are difficult to travel with.

Buy diapers when you get there.
Some items, such as diapers, are easily found everywhere you go. When you pack, avoid packing bulky items like diapers and wipes. Instead, hit a major retailer when you arrive at your destination. Just avoid convenience stores and tourist destinations, as the prices will likely be inflated.

Always have a change of clothes on hand.
You never know when a diaper incident is going to ruin a perfectly good outfit. Keep a change of clothes for baby tucked in your diaper bag, and while you’re at it, tuck away a spare clean shirt for yourself. Things happen when you least expect them.

Create an on-the-go essentials kit.
Put together a basic kit with items you need when traveling. This can include feeding gear, medicine, baby wipes, disinfecting wipes and pacifiers. You know your baby’s routine the best, so cater your kit to what you find you need every day. Don’t forget plenty of basic rags for wiping up spills and covering baby when you need to. As part of your planning, make sure you know how to access and contact the local hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends purchasing additional travel health insurance if needed.

If anything should happen, keep our kid-friendly ER at Alliance in mind during your summer travels. If you would like help finding a doctor, give our physician referral line a call at 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Find out if joint replacement surgery can help you recover from pain and immobility.

Arthritis is a common ailment in the United States, causing millions of people pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five adults report having been diagnosed with arthritis. For some people, conservative treatments aren’t enough to relieve pain and improve quality of life. In those cases, joint replacement surgery may be the best option.

Here are some reasons why you may be a candidate:

  • You’ve tried conservative methods such as pain medication, physical therapy, light exercise, losing weight and massage. These methods aren’t enough to help.
  • Your pain is in your hip or knee. These are common areas of the body for joint replacement procedures.
  • Your pain is severe. Because of chronic pain, you have difficulty walking, taking stairs, lifting things or getting out of chairs. You’re uncomfortable even when at rest.
  • You have a joint deformity. If the structure of your joint itself has a problem, surgery may be the only way to repair it.
  • You’re reasonably healthy. Joint replacement is major surgery and isn’t right for everyone. Those with diabetes and other conditions may not be ideal candidates.
  • You’re ready to do the work. After joint replacement surgery, you become your best treatment option. You must adapt to using a cane or walker while you heal. You must participate in physical therapy to get your new joint in working order.

At North Hills Hospital, the Joint Replacement Program offers pre-operative education sessions to help you prepare for surgery. To learn more, call the North Hills Hospital joint replacement resource line at (817) 255-1691. If you would like to request a physician referral, please call 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Find out how to soothe joint pain associated with arthritis.

Wondering how common arthritis really is? Arthritis affects an estimated 50 million adults in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In observance of Arthritis Awareness Month, discover five ways to reduce joint pain and increase quality of life with arthritis.

Adjust your workspace
Many adults spend a lot of time at work. Take care to adjust the way you work to make sure it’s an optimal situation for reducing joint pain. This could mean investing in special seating, making sure you take plenty of breaks to move or finding out how your physical responsibilities at work can be adjusted.

Maintain a healthy diet
Being overweight can aggravate your arthritis and joint pain. Follow a healthy, sustainable diet in order to reach your goal weight.

Take your medication
Your doctor may prescribe a range of medication and supplements to help reduce your joint pain. It’s important to stay on top of this regime exactly as your doctor has prescribed. Talk to your doctor about other medications or supplements you take regularly to prevent drug interaction.

Make your home arthritis-friendly
Around the house, do what you can to make your daily tasks easier on your arthritis. Wear appropriate footwear, talk to your doctor about the best sleep and rest positions and avoid bending frequently at the knee.

Keep moving
Physical therapy can help improve muscle strength and the motion of stiff joints. Talk to your doctor about how physical therapy can help and ask about what kinds of exercises and gentle activities can help reduce your joint pain.

North Hills Hospital is certified by the Joint Commission and offers patients a comprehensive joint replacement program. For more information, contact the North Hills Orthopedic Resource line at (817) 255-1691. To request a physician referral, please call 1-855-5NHILLS.

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Learn various ways you can manage chronic pain.

Living with pain can change a person's life. Even the simplest, everyday activity can take longer or seem impossible due to the resulting pain and discomfort. Individuals suffering from chronic pain often avoid many favorite activities and social situations since pain can limit most actions. Pain that affects a person's life this way can result in deep depression and a significantly reduced quality of life.

What can a chronic pain sufferer do to manage the condition? Here are some important tips:

1. Seek medical help. You should not have to live with chronic pain. Be sure to seek advice and assistance from medical professionals. Your physician will help find the root cause of your pain. Once the source of the pain is determined, then a plan to reduce or end that pain can be created. A combination of techniques may or may not work best depending on your particular diagnosis.

2. Discuss medications with your physician. While pain medication will not cure the cause of the pain, it can ease pain in your daily routine while you and your physician work to find a way to treat the cause. Over the counter (OTC) medications may be all that you need, or your physician could prescribe a medication. Whether it is an OTC or prescription drug, be sure to follow dosage instructions carefully.

3. Discuss the benefits of physical therapy. You may think that moving more would cause your body more pain. However, many causes of pain can be significantly relieved under the careful guidance of a physical therapist. There are therapies for a number of medical conditions, some of which may surprise you, so be sure to discuss this option with your physician.

4. Consider other non-medicated pain relief options. Relaxation techniques, biofeedback, acupuncture, meditation and other specialized therapies may be very successful ways to manage your pain.

Would you like to read more about our suggestions for pain management? Visit our online Health Library here. If you would like to meet with a North Hills Hospital physician or physical therapist, we recommend that you call us for a referral today at 1-855-5NHILLS. No one should have to live with chronic pain and we are here to help you find immediate relief.

If you suffer from a bunion, you know how painful and restrictive one can be. Bunions can make everyday activities, such as walking and running, hard to manage, and they may prevent your shoes from fitting properly. So it’s important to learn how to prevent bunions and what treatments are available.

A bunion is a bony growth and deformity that forms at the joint of your big toe. It usually forms when the big toe pushes against your other toes, forcing the joint in the opposite direction. Eventually, the bunion can enlarge your joint, which results in pain.

What causes a bunion? The most common cause is usually inheritance from your parents, but wearing high-heeled shoes or shoes that are too tight will help speed up the formation. Other causes include foot injuries and congenital foot defects. Bunions may also be associated with various forms of arthritis, since this disease may lead you to walk in a way that distributes weight unevenly on your feet.

In most cases, a doctor can diagnose a bunion just by examining your feet. Your physician will likely suggest one or more of these treatments:

  • Different shoes: You may find pain relief just by changing the kinds of shoes you wear. Roomy comfortable shoes will give your toes more space.
  • Medication: In many cases, over-the-counter medications will help alleviate the discomfort you are feeling. You may also benefit from cortisone shots.
  • Padding: Your achy toe may appreciate padded shoe inserts that reduce the impact on the joint.
  • Surgery: If conservative strategies don’t help, in some more severe cases, surgery may be the best option. A bunionectomy will remove the swollen bump and straighten out your big toe. Just remember that you may need a few weeks to fully recover from this procedure. And a bunion can recur if you don’t wear the proper shoes after the surgery.

To prevent bunions from forming, be sure to treat your feet right. Choose shoes that fit well and offer support. And if you suffer from arthritis, talk to your doctor about ways to maintain your weight distribution and keep your feet comfortable.

“Suffering from pain and ill-fitting shoes is not necessary,” explains Dr. Steven G. Lund, a doctor of podiatric medicine, who is associated with North Hills Hospital. “If you are not happy with your foot, you need to get x-rays and discuss the options with your podiatrist.”

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Do you suffer from pain every time you take the stairs—or even when you just walk down the block? Sometimes the aches of arthritis are more than just inconvenient. They can keep you from doing the things you love. So what are your options?004567-Knee%20x-ray

In many cases, your joint pain can be treated with conservative methods: pain medication, physical therapy, light exercise, losing weight, and massage. But when those methods haven’t worked, joint replacement may be the answer. Hip and knee replacement are the most common procedures, but the surgery also works for joints such as ankles, shoulders, elbows, and fingers.

Here are some reasons why joint replacement could work for you:

· Conservative treatment hasn’t helped. You’ve tried medication and other remedies, but you’re still in pain.

· Your pain is severe. Your symptoms make it difficult to walk, take the stairs, lift everyday objects, or get out of a chair. You may even feel joint discomfort when you’re at rest.

· You have a joint deformity. If there is a structural problem with your joint, surgery may be the only way to fix it.

· You are in good general health. If you suffer from diabetes or other conditions, your recovery from surgery may be difficult. You doctor can tell you if you are a good candidate.

If you opt for joint replacement surgery, you should expect to be functioning relatively independently after a few weeks, but it may take several months to reach full recovery. Depending on which joint has been replaced, you may need initial help from a cane, crutches, or a walker. You will also likely need physical therapy so you can get used to the new joint. A physical therapist will teach you appropriate exercises to increase your range of motion, strengthen the muscles around the joint, and keep you flexible. After joint replacement, most patients report an improved quality of life.

At North Hills Hospital, our Joint Replacement Center offers a wide range of services, including:

· a pre-operative education session provided by a multi-disciplinary team

· a stream-lined approach to pre-operative testing with a volunteer escort to ensure patients can find their way around the hospital with ease

· a specially trained staff on the surgical unit, where patients enjoy recently renovated, private rooms

· a joint replacement coordinator who serves to meet patient needs before, during, and after the hospital stay

Our comprehensive care helps keep our patients better informed, which leads to outstanding outcomes.

To learn more about joint replacement surgery, contact North Hills Hospital. Serving North Richland Hills and surrounding Northeast Tarrant County, we’re here to get you back on your feet.

Sources:

North Hills Hospital

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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