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Surgery is not everybody's solution to orthopaedic problems. Here we tell you about the treatments that worked for some people who avoided the scalpel

YOUR doctor may tell you that surgery is the solution to your orthopaedic problem, yet you may resist. Don't worry, you are not alone. There are plenty of people out there who are looking for alternatives to the scalpel.

Apart from health conscious youngsters who are willing to search for other treatment options, the group of older people who avoid the surgical solution is growing.

"Older people have health problems like blood pressure or diabetes, which increase the risks involved in a surgery," says sports physiotherapist, Harmeet Kaur Bawa at the Sports Injury Centre, Safdarjung Hospital.

Be it age-related problems such as osteoporosis, ostopaenia and arthritis or a minor trauma caused by sports injury or wrong posture, conservative therapies are emerging as a strong option. "Surgery is not always the answer for orthopaedic problems. In fact, many cases of back ache and joint pain can be resolved by muscle strengthening exercises, stress management, and lifestyle modifications.

These can delay the progression of the problem," says Dr Yash Gulati, senior consultant, orthopaedics, Apollo Hospital. These apart, people have found solutions in alternative healing techniques -- ayurveda, deep breathing, yoga, diet and movement therapy, reiki, meditation and acupuncture.

However, experts caution those who have chosen to avoid a surgery to review the situation of their problem constantly. "Sometimes other treatments can help you buy time, but don't guarantee an escape from an operation forever.

In some cases surgery is inevitable and therapies can only delay it by 2-3 years," says Dr Kaushal Kant Mishra, consultant, orthopaedics, Fortis Hospital.

Other factors such as the age, immunity level, and severity of the ailment determine the success or failure of such therapies. "These must be taken under expert guidance, and people shouldn't experiment with them at home," cautions Nicola Mendis, in-charge of complementary and alternative medicine at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre.


IT WAS his poor posture that caused back problems for 39-year-old Rajiv Babbar. "What started as mild pain in my lower back gradually radiated down my leg. Pain relief ointment didn't help much and after two months of unrelieved pain, I finally went for a checkup," says Babbar. An MRI scan revealed that there was a gap between two bones in his spinal cord, responsible for the pain.

The orthopaedician prescribed painkillers but suggested hip replacement surgery if the pain didn't subside. "I had more or less decided to opt for surgery when someone suggested I try physiotherapy," he recalls.

Sports physiotherapist Harmeet Kaur Bawa said Babbar had good chances of recovery, since his problem was at its initial stage. "His back was stiff and our goal was to reduce the gap and tissue swelling in his spinal cord that was hindering blood circulation," says Bawa at the Sports Injury Centre, Safdarjung Hospital.

Physiotherapy included electrotherapy and exercises. "In the first phase we used heat treatment to reduce muscular pain and spasms. Medium frequency currents were given along the course of the spinal nerves to reduce swelling and facilitate blood flow. Once the pain and stiffness were gone, we started with the second phase of strengthening his back muscles," says Bawa. This involved spinal extension and stretching exercises to improve his muscle tone, flexibility and overall balance.

Beside this, Babbar was also advised some posture correcting techniques and lifestyle modifications like regular walks. "My pain has reduced by 80 per cent. I am off medicines and am fine as long as I avoid exerting myself too much," says Babbar. Although Babbar is still continuing with his sessions, his orthopaedician says he no longer requires a surgery.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jan 18, 2011
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