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Joint Evaluation and Conservative Care

Joints, with their complexity of structure and with the movement and cushioning they provide over a lifetime, are one of the parts of the musculoskeletal system most vulnerable to injury and wear and tear.  Virtua orthopedic experts are highly trained and experienced in evaluating and treating joint problems.  They seek conservative, noninvasive means of treatment whenever possible.

See Lourdes’ physician newsletter on joint imaging.

Care for knees and hips and other weight-bearing joints is one of the most common needs among patients with orthopedic conditions.   Today specialists can almost always determine the cause of problems with these and other joints – and propose a range of possible solutions.

Finding the Cause

Virtua orthopedists take a careful history of the joint problem and perform an examination of the joint.   Often, they will refer the patient for an imaging study, such as X-ray, or CT or MR imaging, if these have not already been done.

Orthopedic surgeons can determine whether a problem of pain, mobility, or strength is due to an acute injury or gradual or repetitive stress – or secondary to a neurologic or other condition.   They can identify whether the compromised or traumatized tissue is primary structural (bone, muscle, or cartilage) or connective tissue such as a tendon or ligament.

Addressing a joint condition requires patience and following a care plan developed by an orthopedic specialist.

Seeking a Conservative Solution

Wikimedia Commons: Nevit Dilmen

Wikimedia Commons: Nevit Dilmen

Even in cases of tissue that has been significantly injured, patients can often try a nonsurgical approach to healing, reconditioning and regaining range of motion.   A rest-and-exercise regimen and anti-inflammatory medications are often a first course of care, for both acute and chronic problems.   Research has shown that this approach is often more effective than arthroscopic surgery for relieving pain from degenerative joint conditions (particularly in the knee and particularly for older patients).   Joint injections for pain relief or to increase ease of motion can also be very helpful.

Mi-Eye Procedure

Learn about the Mi-Eye procedure which Virtua orthopedists can offer patients right in the office, for a quick mini-arthroscopic look inside a joint for rapid evaluation of problems.

Various types of physical therapies involved in orthopedic rehabilitation, and including joint manipulation techniques, can prove successful for a large portion of patients.   A conservative approach, though, can take months or years to see its full results.   Patients who need faster or more-definitive solutions may opt for direct procedures to the joint.   Virtua orthopedists develop a recommended treatment plan with the patient and review progress in follow-up visits to determine if any ongoing or additional types of care, such as  joint repair or replacement might be necessary.

Learn about cartilage repair in knees to slow joint damage.

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