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Ask Dr. Gott 8/16

Knee surgery last option for pain relief

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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am writing to see what you think about knee surgery. I have a torn ligament and arthritis in it. My doctor said he didn't know if it would help or not. He also said if I didn't let him go in there and scope it, later on I would have to have knee-replacement suregery. What's your opinion?
    DEAR READER: A torn knee ligament is a common and painful affliction that can be repaired surgically. However, surgery is surgery: Problems can develop and operations are not guaranteed to be 100 percent effective. Before consenting to an invasive procedure, you might want to try alternatives, such as physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen and others), cartilage injections, Castiva and other noninvasive procedures. If after four to six months of therapy your knee is still extremely painful, you can reconsider surgery.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Understanding Osteoarthritis. Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: Here is a hint for children whose elderly parents do not live close enough to check on them in person several times a week and who do not complain about their health regularly.
    If your aging parent frequents a barbershop or beauty shop once a month or goes to a coffee shop or diner frequently, get the name and phone number of the stylist or manager of the diner, and provide yours in case of emergency. Ask these contact people to call you if they notice any changes or hear any health complaints from your aging parents. Elderly people sometimes have a tendency to tell these people their health concerns, whereas they won't tell their children because they don't want to bother or worry them. Be sure to thank your contact person for his or her help, and a tip or gift would be appreciated if they go out of their way to help you.
    I wish I had thought of this before my mother-in-law suffered a stroke and died six weeks later. She went to the beauty shop once a week and probably told her stylist about symptoms she had been having, but we did not know about them.
    DEAR READER: Although you are correct that elderly people tend to discuss their symptoms with outsiders, I am not sure that your solution is appropriate in all cases. I'd rather leave such medical issues to a caring and loving family. While I realize we cannot be in constant contact with parents and loved ones, perhaps a caring neighbor, equipped with appropriate telephone numbers, is one solution. This amounts to much the same thing as a beauty shop attendant, but the neighbor is always there and might be more inclined to notice pattern changes.
    Another option is to ensure that a health care proxy and power of attorney are in place for our loved ones. It allows a primary care physician to pick up a telephone when an appointment is missed or when health is obviously failing. Without a POA, a physician doesn't have the legal right to share information unless your relative specifically advises him or her to do so.
    I agree that each case is unique. If service personnel don't object to "tattling," I see no harm in encouraging them to share their perceptions.  

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