Aging baby boomers want to live active lives, require innovations in medical treatment

Published: Sunday, April 14 2013 2:15 p.m. MDT

And the outcomes are also better.

"Joint replacements are very successful," Edwards said, adding that 90 percent of people are happy with the results, and the remainder likely have underlying or other medical issues that can exacerbate their joint problems. "It's still an artificial joint and is subject to wearing out, but they're lasting longer than ever with the materials being used now."

The surgeries, he said, help to take away the pain and increase levels of activity more quickly for patients.

That's exactly what Jim Dickson, of Kaysville, is hoping for following complete shoulder reconstruction at Lakeview on Wednesday.

The retired Davis High School football coach and driver's education teacher said he had been enduring problems with his rotator cuff for some time. The group of tendons and muscles in his shoulder that make it function correctly had worn down, but after a somewhat painful fall in December, he needed additional medical attention.

When arthroscopic surgery failed to fix it earlier this year, Edwards moved to reconstruct the whole joint.

A peripheral nerve block, to deaden the pain during and after surgery, Dickson said, made the process more feasible. The 63-year-old has had both knees replaced as well, but he got through those without the added pain management of a nerve block during surgery.

"It's definitely a plus" to not feel the pain," he said. Just hours out of surgery, Dickson said he felt very little discomfort and was just dealing with numbness in his hand. He hopes to get back out on the golf course as soon as possible, as it is one of his favorite pastimes.

"I'm hoping I can get out there and keep going," Dickson said.

Doctors have told him he has about six to eight months of recuperation before he can try out his swing. Only about eight weeks of that is expected to include intense physical therapy, but Dickson expects to be "good as new, if not better," he said.

Hinkle said Dickson will need pain medications for a couple days, but "the first day is the worst. You're in a lot of pain after surgery, typically."

He said patients heading under the knife for major joint replacements and other arthroscopic surgeries are encouraged to ask about the nerve block procedure. It's a more practical approach to a sometimes very painful situation, Hinkle said.

"The more education people have about these things, the better," he said. "It leads to better patient satisfaction."

E-mail: wleonard@deseretnews.com, Twitter: wendyleonards

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