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patient success story


New Treatments Are Easing Arthritis Pain

By Molly Williams

Retirement is supposed to be the time in our lives when we can fill our days with all the things we never had the time to do earlier in life. If we're golfers, it might mean we can play more golf. If we love to travel, it affords us the time we need to see the world. For Lorna Riess, it is gardening and traveling she loves. But she never expected terrible hip pain to keep her from the doing the things she enjoys most in life.

Lorna, better known by her middle name Jean, was losing a quality of life she had come to value to advanced stage osteoarthritis. Kneeling in her garden or walking for long periods of time caused enough pain for Jean to seek out help from St. Louis orthopedic surgeon Joseph Williams, M.D.

Dr. Williams thoroughly explained the causes behind joint failure and the most advanced treatment options available to medical experts today. Jean's advanced stage osteoarthritis warranted enough concern that, together, she and Dr. Williams decided a joint replacement would be the most effective way to renew her quality of life.

Osteoarthritis is a disease that effects almost everyone at some point in his or her life. It is a degenerative joint disease that slowly wears away the smooth-surfaced cartilage covering the ends of the bones in a joint, leaving rough, pitted surfaces.

"Without their normally smooth gliding surfaces, the bones grind against one another, and this causes inflammation, pain, and restricted movement," explains Dr.Williams. "Pain can progress from mild soreness and aching to severe pain and swelling, even during periods of rest. Bone spurs can occur, as can loss of easy movement such as bending or rising. This lack of mobility often causes the muscles serving the knee to weaken and overall body coordination suffers."

In preparation for her hip replacement, Jean did exercises that would strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint that had weakened over the years. In the end, this would help her to recover more quickly by offering more support to her arthritic joint.

On October 18, 2000, Jean Riess underwent a hip replacement at Des Peres hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

Immediately after the surgery, Jean resumed the exercises prescribed by Dr. Williams and her nephew, a practicing physical therapist. "I believe physical therapy after the surgery is a must," Jean says. "Without it, I would not have been able to rebuild my leg and hip muscles."

The exercises surely have paid off. Although technically retired, Jean still helps her sons run the family Ford dealership, while also maintaining a small antiques business, which she greatly enjoys. "I'm very glad I had the surgery on my right hip as I have absolutely no pain whatsoever with it".

The comfort that Jean has regained in her right hip, has encouraged her to have a replacement in her left hip as well, "I'm planning on surgery this fall for it and, of course, I will have Dr. Williams do it".

Jean's story offers important evidence of how medical advancements, such as those being developed by Dr. Williams and his staff, are enabling people around the world to live the lives they have known for years. Or perhaps more to the point, it's helping to liberate people from the pain that for years has kept them from the lives the used to know.