Heed Your Body’s Warnings

What’s the one good thing about pain? It motivates us to seek treatment faster. In the case of orthopedic treatment, the sooner we seek it, the sooner we can return to a healthy, active lifestyle, says Dr. Kenneth Klein, a non-surgical orthopedic specialist with Beloit Health System.

“Many of my patients are moderately active but get involved in some kind of activity – sports, gardening or yard work perhaps – for which they are not conditioned,” Klein says. “I call them the weekend warriors. These injuries would include sprains, tendon pulls, dislocations and more severe injuries such as a torn meniscus or rotator cuff.”

Another group of his patients suffer traumatic injuries from accidents, falls and other unavoidable situations. These patients may come in with broken collarbones, fractures or dislocations.

“The third group are those who have spent years in work and recreational activities that have led to wear on knee, hip, elbow and shoulder joints,” he says. “Over time, not only do these joints become chronically painful but arthritis has also settled into the damaged cartilage surrounding the joints.”

All treatment begins with a thorough understanding of the patient’s history, potential causes of pain and overall physical condition. Usually by the end of an initial exam, Klein feels he has a fairly good idea of what is wrong, sometimes without need for X-rays, CAT scans or MRIs.

“I believe this is critical to successful treatment,” Klein says. “It’s difficult to fix the problem without knowing exactly what the patient was doing that might have cause it. Communication is a vital part.”

Once the diagnosis is made, Klein determines a treatment program that may include physical therapy, vitamins and supplements, pain management medications, and oral or injected medications to reduce inflammation and swelling.

“All of these are used to help patients heal themselves without surgery,” Klein says. “The goal is to work closely with patients to get them back to their normal lifestyles, regardless of age.” ❚