Surgical advances keeping them active, pain-free
They danced to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and disco. They worked out with Jane Fonda and made jogging their national pastime.
Now approaching retirement, many members of the "Me Generation" aren't ready to slow down, even if their bodies are. Chicago foot and ankle surgeon Lowell Weil, Jr., DPM, MBA, FACFAS says Baby Boomers are more likely than previous generations to seek care when arthritis develops in their toes, feet and ankles.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, including gout and rheumatoid arthritis. According to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), the most common forms to affect the feet are post-traumatic and osteoarthritis, especially in the big toe, ankle and midfoot joints.
Dr. Weil, Jr. says many Boomers who seek treatment for arthritis assume they'll be able to resume activities such as running or playing sports. Seeking treatment early can improve the odds of preventing irreversible joint damage. For many patients with early-stage foot or ankle arthritis, changes in shoes or advanced custom orthotics can make a huge difference. While there is no fountain of youth for arthritis, Dr. Weil says there are more medical options available to Baby Boomers than ever before.
Baby Boomers are most likely to develop osteoarthritis in their big toe joint. During walking, the big toe absorbs forces equal to nearly twice a person's body weight. It plays an important role in stooping and standing. Some boomers start to develop big toe stiffness, a condition called hallux limitus, in their forties.
Better surgical procedures now offer improved pain relief and joint movement to Boomers with early stage arthritis at the big toe. Patients with advanced and severe arthritis may need to have the joint fused or replaced. But stronger screws and hardware are helping fusions last longer while slashing recovery times. A new generation of big toe joint replacements shows promise.
Ankles are another prime spot for arthritis. Ankles are more likely to develop post-traumatic arthritis than osteoarthritis. For many Baby Boomers, the trauma was an ankle fracture or a bad sprain that may have happened in their teens or twenties. Innovative new surgical techniques allow foot and ankle surgeons to transplant small plugs of cartilage from one part of the ankle to another in some patients, slowing joint deterioration.
Ankle replacements, however, are not as durable as hip and knee replacements. The ankle is a more challenging joint to replace. It's smaller and moves in multiple directions. But better and promising ankle implants are hitting the market.
Please call us at 847-390-7666 to make an appointment with Dr. Weil, Jr., or visit our website to learn more about Weil Foot & Ankle Institute.