The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 23, 2010

For those who like to move

Surgeon: Don’t wait until you’re in a wheelchair

By Erin Thompson
The Daily Item

— HUMMELS WHARF — Tiffany Long’s pain was unbearable.

She had trouble walking and even the strongest pain medications weren’t helping.

“I couldn’t play with my little brother anymore,” the 29-year-old Milton resident said. “My quality of life suffered.”

Eventually the pain got so bad that Long couldn’t do anything but lay in bed and cry.

“I didn’t get sleep for months,” she said.

Long was suffering from a destroyed hip that resulted from chemotherapy, beginning about three years ago.

Finally, she had enough.

“I got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore,” she said.

Long decided to have hip replacement surgery at Evangelical Community Hospital.

Now, she tells people they don’t have to suffer with joint pain.

That was the topic of conversation during a “Talk to the Doc” education session, held last week at the Susquehanna Valley Mall in Hummels Wharf. The hospital is planning more sessions on this topic in future weeks.

There, Dr. Brian Batman, an orthopedic surgeon at Evangelical Community Hospital, answered questions and tried to clear up misconceptions about joint pain.

Long, for example, doesn’t need convincing that only older people suffer from this type of pain.

In fact, according to Batman, about onethird of adults suffer from some type of arthritic inflamation in the joints.

It is usually caused by wear, and can occur in knees, hips and shoulders, resulting in stiffness and loss of range in motion.

The pain can be averted with Cortozone injections, braces and other pain medication and treated with exercise, but because it is a degenerative condition, it will only get worse with time, said Batman.

“We don’t like to wait until patients are in a wheelchair to operate,” he said. “If your quality of life is affected, (surgery) is something you might want to consider — whether you’re 40 or 90.”

Batman added that a total joint replacement is also usually the “ultimate cure for arthritis.”

When it comes to joint replacements at Evangelical Community Hospital, patients go through both surgery and therapy in group settings.

Patients have surgery on Monday and go home on Thursday, in some cases, Batman said some postoperative patients have requested to not use painkillers on the first day.

“It’s based on the patient’s pain tolerance,” he said.

The ultimate goal is “returning to an independent lifestyle is the best outcome for everyone.”

As for results of Long’s surgery: “Next year I will be able to jump on the trampoline with my little brother,” she said.

For more information on future “Talk to the Doc” programs, contact Evangelical Community Hospital.

— E-mail comments to ethompson@dailyitem.com