Gary Cooke
Special to The Union

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January 27, 2014
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Healthy Tuesday: Have hip health at any age

Maintaining strength and flexibility are keys to keeping your hip joints healthy. But if they need care due to injury, arthritis or structural abnormalities, physicians from Summit Orthopedic Specialists offer flexible treatment options, according to a spokesperson for the group.

The group, which has worked out of its Carmichael offices for nearly 30 years, established an office in Grass Valley earlier this month. The practice is currently staffed with a full-time physician assistant and rotation of four Summit orthopedic surgeons. A search is under way for a full-time orthopedic surgeon for the new office. Once the new surgeon is on board, Summit surgeons with expertise in specific areas will continue to rotate through the office.

Locally, the area’s aging population and large number of residents who love hiking, biking, climbing, skiing and other activities that can lead to broken bones, and wear and tear on joints, hint at a busy schedule for the new orthopedic practice.

Arthritis is very prevalent and on the rise, according to Dr. Paul Sasaura, an orthopedic surgeon and president of Summit Orthopedic Specialists. With longer life expectancies, the obesity epidemic and baby boomers reaching retirement age, the need for joint replacement will only increase.

“Chances are, anybody with a tinge of gray on top will know someone who has had hip replacement surgery,” said Sasaura. “On the Internet, you can even find lists of celebrities who have had hip replacements — everyone from the Queen Mother to rock icon Eddie Van Halen.”

“The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, or ‘wear and tear’ arthritis,” Sasaura explained. “This is a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage cushioning the joint slowly wears away. The bones then rub together whenever the joint moves, and the fluid-filled capsule enclosing the joint becomes inflamed.”

These bone ends thicken against the increased friction, and bone spurs may form, he said. But as the condition progresses, the joints get stiffer, hard to move, and can be very painful, even at rest.

Osteoarthritis may occur in anyone, but is most often found in elderly patients, predominantly women.

Arthritis may be managed with non-surgical approaches, Sasaura said. These include keeping a healthy weight, physical therapy, walking aids, medications, and cortisone injections. Surgery is usually advised when hip pain limits everyday activities, pain is felt even while at rest, stiffness makes it difficult to move the legs or non-surgical treatments fail to provide adequate pain relief.

“We are experienced in a variety of total hip replacement techniques,” Sasaura said. “For example, we may use MAKOplasty Total Hip Arthroplasty, which involves making a 3-D model and using a surgeon controlled robotic arm that guides the precise placement of the socket and implants.”

Summit Orthopedic Specialists perform surgeries at several regional hospitals, including Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

“The addition of Summit Orthopedic to existing area orthopedic providers will allow more patients to receive their surgeries near home at a community hospital they know and trust,” says Dr. Brian Evans, vice president of medical affairs at Sierra Nevada Memorial.

In addition to total hip surgery, Summit surgeons also do hip resurfacing as an alternative to joint replacement in some patients.

“Hip resurfacing leaves much more bone intact to support a later procedure if one is needed,” Sasaura explained. “This procedure can be beneficial for younger, more active people.”

Younger people with athletic hip wear or injuries may be helped by hip arthroscopy, a minimally invasive procedure where the surgeon can remove loose cartilage, smooth or repair damaged tissue, or trim bone spurs by inserting a camera and specialized instruments through small holes in the hip area. This is done as an outpatient procedure, and the patient typically may resume activities after a short period of rehabilitation, said Dr. Hunter Greene, a Summit surgeon with specialized training in hip arthroscopy.

Keeping a healthy weight and exercising are important to hip and knee joints. Strengthening and stretching exercises help keep the muscles that support joints strong, and flexible muscles are less susceptible to injury, adds Greene.

Summit physicians perform a wide range of orthopedic procedures, but that does not include full-spectrum hand and wrist care or treatment for back and neck problems, a spokesperson clarified. They do offer carpal tunnel release and the removal of cysts from the wrists, she added.

The Grass Valley office of Summit Orthopedic Services is accepting patients. To schedule an appointment or learn more about joint replacement options, call 530-272-7593.

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.


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The Union Updated Jan 28, 2014 12:14PM Published Jan 29, 2014 08:01PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.