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Published on October 11, 2017

3d illustration of the knee

Total Joint Replacement Close to Home Can Cure Knee and Hip Issues

You’ve tried all the therapy, many medicines and even some anti-inflammatory injections. But that knee is still grinding, and its pain keeps limiting the way you live your life.

Long-term relief with high satisfaction – and a better lifestyle with less pain – is available to people who suffer from joint pain. That’s the goal of Avera orthopedic surgeons like Gonzalo Sanchez, MD, who serves patients from around central South Dakota at his Pierre practice.

“There can be that point where approaches like physical therapy, rehab and even the injections no longer provide the relief they once did, and that’s when surgical approaches and a total-joint replacement can change everything,” he said. “The degenerative conditions that lead to this approach affect many people ages 50 and older, but for the most part a population between ages 60-70. That’s a guideline – we have had patients in their 40s who benefit greatly as well.”

Conservative Care's Limits

Sanchez said that while more conservative treatment can provide years of serviceable assistance, the years of osteoarthritic wear and tear on a joint will add up. For patients who are good candidates for surgery, the total joint replacement procedure can pay off.

“The prosthesis itself is long-lasting, and before we consider surgery, we work with our patients to make sure they are optimized for the approach both physically and medically,” Sanchez said. “That way they are ready to recover once the procedure is completed. We optimize to avoid the possible complications that can come with anesthesia and surgery.”

Those complications include blood clots and infections, and that’s why the preparation is so thorough, said Sanchez. Some patients may have chronic illnesses that need to be addressed prior to a joint replacement, too. The surgeon also said post-surgical pain can be addressed during the procedure. One key to the entire approach is getting the surgery done close to home.

“Our years of experience show that the best outcomes for patients occur when they can have total-joint surgery closer to home, so they can have help from their support-system of family and friends as they get better,” he said. “We follow up about two weeks after the surgery and most patients are walking pretty well with minimal pain – therapy continues for about a month after the surgery.”

Added Value in Local Care

Sanchez said many factors apply in the search for close-to-home surgery options. For almost all patients who are candidates for total-joint replacement, a long-distance drive can be dangerous.

“It’s among the basic fundamentals to avoid blood clots – no long drives. We encourage anyone who has to travel to stop at least one each hour and get out and walk,” he said. “But if Pierre patients have to travel all the way to Mitchell or Sioux Falls for this procedure, they would be making a risk-laden, multi-stop endeavor that could bring with it dangerous risks of blood clots.”

Most surgeons in Pierre trained in large health care centers and bring that expertise to the smaller city, Sanchez said. They offer the same skills – and the benefits of having your support system nearby are many.

“We have the skills and we can help you locally,” he said. “I live here because I want our community to have the excellent care I can provide.”

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