Tag Archives: arthritis

Joint Griefs

May 22, 2015 by

This article originally appeared in May/June 2015 edition of 60-Plus.

If you’ve never complained of knee pain, consider yourself lucky. The knee is the largest joint in the body and one of the most commonly injured.

While acute or overuse injuries are the most common causes of knee pain, arthritis is also a common source of discomfort.

To avoid knee pain and injuries, there are some things you can do to help keep your knees healthy and strong, says Dr. Beau Konigsberg, an orthopedic surgeon at Nebraska Medicine.

One of the most important of these is to maintain a healthy weight, says Dr. Konigsberg. Losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight can dramatically reduce your chances of developing knee arthritis, which is the most common cause of knee pain among people in their 60s and 70s, says Dr. Konigsberg. It is estimated that every extra pound you pack on puts about four extra pounds of pressure on your knees.

Staying active is also key to keeping the knee joint supple and to prevent injury, he says. A knee that isn’t used stiffens and the muscles around it will weaken.

Maintaining flexibility, as well as regular strengthening exercises is also important. Focus on the muscles and tendons that connect directly to the knee, such as the hamstrings and the quadriceps, which help support the knees and reduce stress on the knee joints.

There has also been a lot of attention in the news surrounding glucosamine and chondroitin. “While there have been no studies that have proven these supplements can regrow cartilage or slow the degenerative process,” says Dr. Konigsberg,  “some people swear that they provide some relief of knee pain.”

If knee pain becomes debilitating, it might be time to consider a knee replacement. Thousands of knee replacements are performed each year, and for many people, they provide significant relief and a return to mobility, notes Dr. Konigsberg. If you have lost weight, tried anti-inflammatories and cortisone injections and still have significant pain that may be waking you up at night, it may be time to consider a knee replacement.

“A knee replacement is considered only after all other treatment options have been exhausted,” says Dr. Konigsberg.

For 70-year-old Dennis Chin, a knee replacement allowed him to resume his favorite pastime—playing golf. Chin had injured his knee several times in high school sports and had undergone several arthroscopic knee surgeries.

Over the years, the pain in his knee returned and gradually got worse. When he retired, he stepped up his golf game, which made the pain worse. “I was using my club as a crutch and taking Aleve everyday,” he says.

But when the pain began waking him up at night and he could barely get through a golf game, Chin knew he had to do something. Dr. Konigsberg took X-rays and said there was so much damage that his only real option was a knee replacement.

Chin had a knee replacement in January 2013 and was back on the golf course by March. Now he plays five times a week and sometimes twice a day.

“I have no pain and I’m not limping anymore,” says Chin. “No one can even tell that I had an operation.”

Chin couldn’t be happier. He’s doing what he loves and that’s what retirement is all about.


Young Hero: Jack Kacin

August 16, 2013 by

Seven-year-old Jack Kacin is the bravest child his mom, Kristi, has ever known.

Jack suffers from a rare disease called CANDLE Syndrome, which is Chronic Atypical Neutrophilic Dermatosis with Lipodystrophy and Elevated Temperature. This means he has daily fevers, rashes, delayed growth and development, liver enlargement, arthritis, and more to deal with on a daily basis. He also has to take his medications twice daily. Although he has this disease, Kristi says he acts like he doesn’t have one.

“Jack travels to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland monthly and endures many medical procedures,” she says. “But he never worries about them and is very cooperative.” She believes that one of the reasons why Jack is such a good sport with these procedures is because he just likes to have fun in every situation, even if it’s a difficult one. “He likes to make people laugh…He remembers people’s names, and he always asks how their day is going.”

One of her favorite things about him, though, is just how lovable he is. She explains that there is a playroom at the NIH facility where Jack always plays with the other kids. After one visit where Jack had to stay for a month, Kristi says everyone in the playroom knew who he was. “He gives hugs to everyone. He loves to snuggle…He loves his doctors that care for him in Omaha…[He just] cares about everyone and is very social.”

Above all, Jack is a hero for other children, as well as Kristi, because he loves life no matter what. “He is truly an extraordinary boy with a big heart,” she says.

There will be a spaghetti feed, silent auction, and raffle event on September 22 at the Firefighters Union Hall (6005 Grover St.) from 12-6pm to benefit Jack and his parents. If you would like to donate to Jack, visit gofundme.com/JackKacin.

Do you have a Young Hero in your life? Tell us their story. They might be featured right here on our Young Hero page! Contact Bailey Hemphill.

Dr. Mike Sitorius

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As a family physician for 33 years, Dr. Mike Sitorius spends time stressing the importance of staying physically active to his patients. And while the doctor, 61, logs 60+ hours a week on the job, as well as serves a leadership role at UNMC, he still finds time to practice what he preaches. Some might say he “walks the walk.” Literally.

“I played a lot of basketball up until about my mid-50s when arthritis in my knees forced me to give it up,” Dr. Sitorius says. “Then I took up walking. I prefer to walk at work and try to get in 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. I used to use a pedometer, but nowadays I have a pretty good gauge without one.”

That may seem like a lot of steps, but Dr. Sitorius says climbing the stairs whenever possible, taking “the long way” to meetings, and walking the six blocks between buildings on the UNMC campus several times daily allow him to rack up steps pretty quickly.

“It’s good physical activity, but it’s the mental part, too…Walking allows me good thinking time,” he adds. He also enjoys walking with his wife, Marilyn, a radiologist, in their Omaha neighborhood two or three times a week when the weather allows. “It’s a great time for us catch up on things with one another.”20130327_bs_9232_Web

Dr. Sitorius says he stretches and does balancing exercises regularly as well. “No tools or equipment needed…just my body.”

Mental exercise is as important as physical exercise, especially for the aging body, he declares. “Mental activity creates a sense of well-being and a better perception of one’s physical health. I encourage everyone to read—not just a novel but anything—or do something mentally stimulating…Learn something new. Right now, I’m trying to learn all of the new technology out there, one small bit at a time.”

One should not underestimate the importance of socializing to one’s health either, Dr. Sitorius says. “It’s easy to become disconnected to other groups, especially with all the technology today. Personal interaction is important. I love everything sports, and I always found time to socialize following my children’s high school and college sport teams (and with five children, that’s a lot of games!) and I’m a huge Husker fan—not just football but all [university] sports.”

He also stays connected, both personally and professionally, with his peers, serving on the Nebraska Advisory Commission for Rural Health and the Bellevue Medical Center Board.

Think balancing it all is tough with the doctor’s busy schedule? “My dad (who was a rural general practicioner) used to work 110-120 hours a week. He would have no sympathy for my schedule,” he says with a chuckle.