I had the pleasure of going on a recent bike trip with a 75-year-old gentleman named Earl. Earl had some of the most deformed knees I have seen in a long time with bone-on-bone changes in the inside or medial compartment of each knee. He was told he has severe osteoarthritis and is going to undergo bilateral knee replacements. Earl has run 40 marathons in his lifetime, now bikes 40 km a day. On this recent bike trip, we would average over 30 miles a day riding on hilly terrain. Despite the severe arthritis, Earl was able to keep up with us despite his severe arthritis. When I asked him if it hurt, he said his pain has become a part of his life that he has gotten used to. He took no anti-inflammatory medications and he is looking forward to getting his knees fixed. While Earl may be an exception, most people with osteoarthritis are able to engage in some form of exercise to help maintain their strength and improve their flexibility.
A story like Earl’s underscores the importance of taking as good a care of your body as you can, particularly as you face the prospect of impending surgery. Thirty percent of most Americans are overweight and this contributes to the significant increase in the instance of osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. Reducing caloric intake and maintaining at least a minimal exercise routine is important to improve the success of your surgery and decrease your risk of complications.
— William P. Barrett, MD