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Healthy You

Pinpointing Your Joint Pain

Friday, September 11, 2020 10:35 AM

Keeping your joints healthy will allow you to run, walk, jump, play sports, and do the other things you like to do. Here, NorthShore's experts at the Orthopaedic & Spine Institute answer questions about joint health that were submitted by our community.

Tennis joint pain

Q: If I have once in a while knee pain and hip pain, but it goes away then what point do I need a doctor?
A: I would suggest seeing a doctor when the pain starts to become a consistent problem that is impacting things you enjoy doing on a daily basis.  Occasional aches and pains in muscles and joints are relatively common and may go away on their own.  If the pain becomes consistent and doesn’t seem to go away, it is a good idea to have the problem evaluated so that possible treatment options can be discussed.

Q: What causes pain in the area of the upper back, left side, on shoulder blade? Hurts to the touch, walking, moving side to side. Thanks!
A: There are numerous potential causes of pain in this location including muscle strain, tendonitis, arthritis, or referred pain from the neck.  I would recommend seeing an orthopedic doctor have the problem evaluated.  The source of the pain can be narrowed down based on a physical exam and appropriate imaging.

Q: I weigh 315 pounds. Do I qualify to have my knees replaced?
A: The number that knee surgeons typically pay closer attention to is Body Mass Index (BMI), rather than the weight itself.  BMI is a measure of weight compared to height.  If someone is 5 feet tall and weighs 315 lbs, that person’s BMI would be far higher than a person who is 7 feet tall with the same weight.  There is an abundance of data demonstrating a higher risk of overall complications when knee replacement is performed in patients with a BMI more than 40.  It is not to say it cannot be done, but it is often ideal to get the weight in a more optimal range to help mitigate the risk of complication.  Every surgeon has a different comfort level in terms of “BMI cutoff,” meaning at what BMI they will not perform surgery.  You can certainly be evaluated and have a discussion with a surgeon to obtain more information.