Joseph Horton, MD, Provides Orthopedic Surgery at Valley Baptist Medical Center
T he human body is amazing, but like anything else, it wears down with time and use. However, we do not have to accept pain as a fact of life. When facing serious musculoskeletal injury or pain that limits movement of the muscles and bones, the specialist to see is an orthopedic surgeon. Locally, Valley Baptist Medical Center’s orthopedic surgeons are resources for individuals facing sore joints and muscle aches, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and in the case of Dr. Joseph Horton, sports injuries, too.
Dr. Horton is board certified in general orthopedic surgery and also holds a fellowship in sports medicine. In addition to hip and knee replacements, simple fractures and hand work like trigger finger and carpal tunnel releases, Dr. Horton can perform different techniques specific to sports-related injuries.
“People are tearing or breaking something on a daily basis, unfortunately,” says Dr. Horton. While the sports injuries he sees are usually caused by overuse, or a collision or other mishap that results in a strain or break, some injuries like a torn rotator cuff can happen from just doing things around the house. “You can strain the rotator cuff and tear it from just lifting a gallon of milk out of the refrigerator,” he says, and explained that falls result in many injuries as well.
“Luckily you don’t have to worry about snow down here,” says Dr. Horton, who came to the Valley in August from Pennsylvania. However, he sees falls year-round. “I’ve seen people with broken bones as a result of a fall from looking down at their cell phones.”
When treating weekend warriors who are experiencing sore knees, he often recommends viscosupplementation injections that lubricate the joint to ease the pain. However, they do not slow the progression of arthritis, which he sometimes finds to be the culprit for patients’ pain. He explains that cartilage in the knee is like tread on a tire. “When the tire wears down, eventually you get down to the steel belts and it’s time to replace the tire,” he says. At that point in the human body metaphor, injections don’t help anymore. “When it’s too far gone and you have bone-on-bone, you will need knee replacement.” Knee replacement surgery involves installing metal caps on the bones in the knee using a plastic spacer between them to replace the missing cartilage.
Dr. Horton explained that there have been many advances in technology. “We are not able to replace cartilage yet, but there are new techniques for treating early arthritis,” he says. “A lot of techniques utilize arthroscopy to see and work inside the joints.” A thin instrument with a camera tip is inserted into a small incision, allowing the surgeon to look for the problem without having to cut the whole limb open. “We have more options now, so people don’t have to suffer in silence,” he says.
“Having a sports medicine background, I’m much more comfortable and familiar using the scope than say, someone who only does joint replacement,” says Dr. Horton. “Some surgeons are still doing open procedures, especially for rotator cuffs.” Dr. Horton treats rotator cuffs with the scope, as well as meniscus tears, ACL tears, and other sports injuries.
What might Help
Dr. Horton recommends that individuals suffering from arthritis do what they can to relieve the pain before it gets to the point of surgery. “Decreasing your weight puts less force on the knee,” he says. “Some people have found that after they lose 20 pounds, their knee pain goes away.” Non-weight bearing exercise like water aerobics or stationary biking are particularly helpful because they take pressure off the joints. Likewise injections of cortisone or viscosupplementation injections can help alleviate the pain and may put off surgery for a while. Individuals who are experiencing any sort of pain with their muscles or bones can find Dr. Horton at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen. “We have more options now, so people don’t have to suffer in silence,” he says.
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