What Are the Best Exercises for Older Adults

What Are the Best Exercises for Older Adults

By Elaine K. Howley | Featured on US News

Gentle movement that’s easy to incorporate may help you live longer and healthier.

STUDY AFTER STUDY HAS shown that exercise can help improve cardiovascular health, stamina and bone density while reducing the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity. These findings hold especially true for older adults who, by the very nature of aging, are likely to lose muscle mass, strength, bone density, agility, endurance and balance as they age.

It’s a fight against gravity and time, but staying fit over the long term is a goal worth pursuing. Older adults who exercise regularly enjoy more independence and health than those who don’t. So how can older adults incorporate more activity into their lives and what are the best exercises for them? The key is to find enjoyable activities that you can stick with. These can be anything from walking or water aerobics to yoga, dancing, tai chi or simple stretching.

Regardless of the specific activity you may choose to pursue, one key thing to focus on, says Douglas Ebner, a physical therapist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, is functionality. “I like to make sure that the exercises we do are able to carry over to regular life.” It’s all well and good to do seated stretching exercises, but when it comes time to get up out of the chair, do you have the leg strength to do that? Are you able to negotiate the stairs that lead into your house.

Cultivating the strength needed to complete these everyday tasks can be achieved through the use of various leg exercises, such as using a leg press machine or completing squat exercises, which are elements Ebner says he focuses on with his patients. “Depending on the person, I’ll try to give them some weight to hold onto so that way we can load their muscles to elicit the response we want.”

In addition to focusing on lower body strength to ensure walking ability and reduce fall risk, Ebner says some older adults may also want to incorporate other functional exercises into their routine. “If they’re stronger, then we can work on a motion where they’re picking up a medicine ball or a kettlebell from the ground, as a simulation for picking up items from the ground that they might need to do in everyday life.”

While exercising, another important consideration is avoiding falls. Ebner says falls are a big concern because there’s a direct correlation between falling later in life and life expectancy. A 2017 study in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that one-third of adults over age 50 who fracture a hip die within 12 months of that injury. Hip fractures are also very painful and greatly reduce mobility.

But reducing falls while encouraging exercise raises a dilemma, says Dr. Tanya Gure, section chief of geriatrics and associate clinical professor in internal medicine at the Wexner Medical Center. “There can be this tension that starts to develop when patients are having increased falls. How do you improve mobility without increasing fall risk?”

Particularly for older adults living in an assisted living community or other long-term care facilities where it may be more difficult to engage in exercises with the support of a therapist in a one-on-one situation, balancing the risk of falling with the need for mobility can be a delicate calculation and a challenge that many assisted living facilities must meet daily. “Sometimes having a concern about falls and a whole system that’s really geared up to reduce falls can ultimately reduce the amount of walking that patients do. That’s a dilemma. You want to encourage mobility and encourage residents to maintain their walking,” says Gure. That’s why it’s important to find the right level of physical challenge with the appropriate level of safety.

Here’s where Gure says families can play a key role in helping a senior stay as active as possible for as long as possible. “Families play a critical role in being there and serving as partners with staff at a facility” and helping keep seniors active outside of organized exercise classes and events. When the family is there, you can ensure that your family member walks more. This kind of support and encouragement can go a long way toward helping a loved one maintain mobility and independence. “To the extent that it can be optimized, families can play a critical role in keeping that going,” Gure says.

In finding the right exercise routine or activities for your loved one, a match also needs to be made between the individual’s abilities and interests. Sue Johansen, vice president of partner services with A Place for Mom, a senior referral service based in Seattle, says “it goes back to ensuring that the activity level of the resident is in sync with the programming at the community. If someone is in a walker, do they have a sponsored and hosted group that goes walking every day? Different levels of care may mean different things; there are some senior communities that have resident-led walking groups in the morning. For those for whom it’s appropriate, it’s great. They can decide where their walks are going.”

But she notes participating in certain exercise groups isn’t always as straightforward a prospect as it might seem on paper. “Senior communities often act like a high school – there are cliques and joiners and people who are leaders. So, for active people, they tend to self-select and gravitate to others that they feel comfortable doing activities with.” This is great if your senior is outgoing and active already. But if you’re trying to encourage an aging adult to get moving more, that might require a little more effort on the part of the caregiver to draw that person into more activities and exercise groups.

And exercising with peers should be part of the program. Gure says exercise is about more than just getting the blood moving and maintaining range of motion – it’s about social interaction, too. Exercise has been shown to be helpful in combating depression, and so has reducing social isolation.

Group exercise classes for seniors often involve stretching or yoga – gentle movements that provide benefits through relaxation as well as improved range of motion. “The degree of intensity of that would depend on where you are (physically) and what kinds of programs are available. I would characterize it as being on the lighter side,” Gure says.

However, some residents in assisted living communities and nursing homes need more intensive rehabilitation before they’re ready to engage in group exercise events. In these cases, Gure says she will discuss with families “concerns about limitations in that person being able to engage in an exercise program.” An assessment of current ability and what it’ll take to get the person’s physical status up to a level that allows them to participate with other residents can be a smart way to help them integrate into the community and get back to a more regular exercise routine.

The goal of any exercise program for older adults should be on improving or maintaining day-to-day function and quality of life. Because of this, many communities will offer exercises that are geared toward helping people maintain mobility while reducing the risk of falling. Seniors who are a fall risk may be able to engage in modified exercises while seated.

In nursing homes, because residents tend to have more health needs than residents in assisted living facilities, the type of exercise you’ll find may be more limited. The focus in nursing homes may be more on providing physical therapy to help residents recover from an illness and become stronger and more independent. But that all “depends on where the person is in their long-term stay,” Gure says. “When a patient initially comes in, sometimes the reason for that is subacute care, where physical therapy services are part of the benefit. The patient is there to gain strength. If there is a decision to either not continue in that subacute care setting because benefits have run out or there’s not an additional benefit needed through rehab, then that long-term resident has more of a restorative exercise program.”

Gure says that physical therapy may be helpful for some patients depending on the situation. “Many times, those patients are at baseline and not physically able or have other limitations cognitively that would make it more difficult for them to engage more independently in an exercise program than a resident who’s in an assisted living facility.” In these instances a “more structured setting where there’s more supervision and a dedicated schedule for that tends to be more what you see when it’s a long-term care resident.”

That said, many nursing homes do have recreational programs that have “wonderful activities that residents can participate in,” Gure says. “There may be some patients in nursing homes who have more free use of the gym to maintain their fitness, but exercise tends to be a much more structured activity in nursing homes.”

When determining what aspect of fitness needs the most focus, Ebner says he evaluates patients first, but that this evaluation doesn’t vary much from what he would conduct for a younger person. “I’ll check to make sure that all the joints are moving the right amount and make sure that their muscle strength is appropriate. Depending on what I find, I may give them specific stretches and exercises to work on that impairment.” But as far as the evaluation itself goes, “it really doesn’t change much between older adults and younger people. I always look at how the joints and muscles are working.”

Ebner says a focus on strength training is important, but that cardiovascular exercise is also beneficial, especially for older adults who have to face a lot of stairs in day-to-day life. Whereas navigating a couple of steps to get into the house might rely more on strength, climbing a longer flight of stairs to the second level may also require some stamina and endurance that cardiovascular exercise can help build.

No matter the specific needs, the name of the game with exercise is to make it a lifelong habit. Ebner says the seniors who do better are those who’ve been active all along and aren’t starting from scratch in building strength and endurance later in life. “The more they can do proactively to keep from losing their strength, the better.” Strength training, balance work, yoga, walking – any and all of these activities can help you lead a longer, less frail life, because having “optimal strength will prevent them from having any major injuries or a fall.”

Even being bedridden is no excuse to skip the sweat session, Ebner says. “Anything can be valuable. (Bedridden patients) are going to be limited in what they can do, but the main thing is you want to get them weight-bearing,” or working to build up the strength to be able to get up out of bed. This may require intensive one-on-one physical therapy sessions, and “if they’ve had surgery they may not be able to. But a lot of times it’s just getting them to do whatever they can do.” It seems when it comes to exercise, no matter your age, something is always better than nothing.

“The big thing is that the more people can strength train at a younger age, I think it sets them up for better success down the road,” Ebner says. While there might be a negative cultural connotation associated with strength training as being only for body-builders and “meathead” types, he says this isn’t what strength training is about. It’s about helping you maintain function as long as possible. “The stronger you are, the more likely you’re going to be able to have longevity.”

Coaxing' stem cells to form new bone tissue

‘Coaxing’ stem cells to form new bone tissue

By Maria Cohut

| Article Featured on Medical News Today

New research has identified a possible way to manipulate certain stem cells to generate new bone tissue. The results of this investigation could vastly improve the outcome for people with skeletal injuries or conditions such as osteoporosis.

A new study looks at how to encourage stem cells to form new bone tissue rather than other types of tissue.

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that have the potential to specialize and undertake any function.

Much recent research has focused on how best to use stem cells for therapeutic purposes. Researchers are particularly interested in how to manipulate them to create new tissue that can successfully replace damaged sets of cells or those that are no longer functional.

In a new study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, Dr. Aaron James and his team have looked into the mechanisms that allow certain types of stem cell, which are known as “perivascular stem cells,” to form new bone tissue.

These stem cells tend to turn into either fat tissue or bone tissue. To date, it has been unclear what, exactly, determines their fate.

“Our bones have a limited pool of stem cells to draw from to create new bone. If we could coax these cells toward a bone cell fate and away from fat, it would be a great advancement in our ability to promote bone health and healing.”

Dr. Aaron James

The investigators conducted their research in a rat model as well as in human cell cultures, and they report their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

The protein that drives cell fate

Previous studies that Dr. James conducted have suggested that a particular signaling protein called WISP-1 is likely to drive the fate of perivascular stem cells by “telling” them whether to form fat or bone tissue.

In the current study, the researchers sought to prove WISP-1’s role in determining stem cell fate by genetically modifying a set of human stem cells to stop them from producing this protein.

When they compared gene activity in the engineered stem cells with gene activity in cells that still produced WISP-1, the researchers confirmed that the protein played an important role. In the cells without WISP-1, four of the genes responsible for fat formation had a 50–200 percent higher level of activity than they did in the cells continuing to produce WISP-1.

This also indicated that the correct dosage of this signaling protein could drive the stem cells to form bone tissue instead of fat tissue.

As expected, when the researchers then modified stem cells to increase WISP-1 production, they noticed that three of the genes that stimulate bone tissue growth became twice as active compared with those in stem cells with normal levels of the signaling protein.

At the same time, the activity of genes that stimulated the growth of fat tissue — such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG) — was 42 percent lower in stem cells with a WISP-1 boost, and this decrease occurred in favor of genes that determine bone tissue growth.

Stem cell intervention shows promise

In the next stage of the study, the scientists used a rat model to determine whether WISP-1 could boost bone healing in spinal fusion, a type of medical intervention that requires joining two or more vertebrae (spine bones) to form a single bone.

The therapeutic use of spinal fusion is to improve back pain or spinal stability in the context of various conditions that affect the spine, such as scoliosis.

Usually, “Such a procedure requires a massive amount of new bone cells,” explains Dr. James. “If we could direct bone cell creation at the site of the fusion, we could help patients recover more quickly and reduce the risk of complications,” he notes.

In the current study, the researchers injected human stem cells that had active WISP-1 into rats. They did this between the vertebrae that were due to become joined as part of the fusion procedure.

After 4 weeks, Dr. James and his team found that the animals still displayed high levels of WISP-1 in their spinal tissue. Moreover, new bone tissue was already forming in the right places, allowing the vertebrae to become “welded.”

Conversely, rats that had received the same surgical intervention but without the WISP-1 boost did not present any vertebral fusion during this same period.

“We hope our findings will advance the development of cellular therapies to promote bone formation after surgeries like this one and for other skeletal injuries and diseases, such as broken bones and osteoporosis,” Dr. James declares.

In the future, the research team also aims to find out whether reducing WISP-1 levels in stem cells could lead them to form fat tissue, which could help promote faster wound healing.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

What Makes a Healthy Diet?

Top 10 Best Diets Ranked

Article Featured on US News

A healthy diet doesn’t require a lot of money, newfangled appliances or subsisting on any kind of scheme that sounds like a gimmick. Because it’s true what they say about what seems too good to be true: Eating well means listening to that little voice inside that knows what healthy foods generally look like – fresh and recognizable in nature – and what they don’t – prepackaged and processed.

That sensibility may not fit so well with our on-demand culture, where we want results now – be it dinner or weight loss. But if you want a program that works for the long run, you’ll need a lifestyle you can live with and like. That means a diet that’s nutritious and delicious, but one that will take a bit of planning and commitment from you.

While staying lean is a big part of good health, weight lost doesn’t always equal health gained. That new diet that took inches off your waistline could be harming your health if it locks out or severely restricts entire food groups, relies on supplements with little scientific backing or clamps down on calories to an extreme.

“People are so desperate to lose weight that it’s really weight loss at any cost,” says Madelyn Fernstrom, founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center. And when that desperation sets in, Fernstrom says, “normal thinking goes out the window.” Who cares how wacky or unhealthy a recommendation sounds to you? Pounds are coming off. You’re happy. But your body might not be. And that approach always guarantees weight regain.

With our Best Diets 2019 rankings, you can check the nutritional completeness and safety of 41 popular diets, from Atkins to the Fertility Diet to WW (Weight Watchers), in a detailed profile crafted for each one. (The profiles also cover scientific evidence, typical meals and much more.) And U.S. News’ Best Diets for Healthy Eating rankings give each diet a “healthiness” score from 5 (best) to 1 (worst) for safety and nutrition, with safety getting double weight; while you can modify a diet to some degree to adjust for nutritional imbalances or deficiencies, mere tweaking won’t make an unsafe diet safe.

Behind these scores are ratings by a panel of diet and nutrition experts assembled by U.S. News. They assessed the diets across seven categories, including the safety and nutritional completeness categories, for a series of nine different rankings lists. The Best Diets for Healthy Eating rankings overlap significantly with Best Diets Overall. Both give especially high marks to the DASHMINDTLCMediterraneanMayo Clinic and Volumetrics diets.

“The ones that get high scores in safety and in nutritional value – they’re very similar to each other,” says Andrea Giancoli, a registered dietitian who serves on the U.S. News expert panel. The recurring theme across the diets that excelled in healthiness is adequate calories supplied by a heavy load of vegetables, fruits and whole grains; a modest amount of lean protein, nonfat dairy and healthy fats; and an occasional treat. Plants are the foundation, and the menu is always built around minimally processed meals made from scratch.

Because plant-based eating patterns are so healthful and growing in popularity, U.S. News also offers a Best Plant-Based Diets category. And given the rise of food intolerances and sensitivities, we’ve included profiles of diets that are said to ease digestive distress – the gluten-free and low FODMAP diets. These are not ranked, however, as they are not intended for general dietary needs.

Very few diets on the Healthy Eating list are overtly unsafe or severely deficient nutritionally. Ten plans received healthiness scores below 3; these included the PaleoRaw FoodFastDukanAtkins and Whole30 diets. They’re simply too restrictive, say our experts, who call their nutritional qualities into question. The meat-heavy Paleo diet bans grains and dairy, so getting adequate calcium and vitamin D isn’t easy. Atkins, by severely curbing carbs, blows past recommended caps for total and saturated fat. Depending on your personal approach to the Raw Food Diet, you may shortchange yourself on calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D; its restrictive cooking rules also could put you at risk for eating raw or undercooked ingredients.

If you have reservations about a diet’s nutritional content or safety, listen to your body. Fatigue, sleeplessness, dizziness, aches – they’re all red flags. Says Fernstrom: “Losing weight is for good health, so you should feel more vital – not bad.”

Best Diets for Healthy Eating

#1Mediterranean Diet
#2DASH Diet
#3The Flexitarian Diet
#4(tie)MIND Diet
#4(tie)TLC Diet
#6(tie)Mayo Clinic Diet
#6(tie)Nordic Diet
#6(tie)Volumetrics Diet
#6(tie)WW (Weight Watchers) Diet
#10Asian Diet

DIET Ranking information as of January 2nd, 2019Updated on Jan. 2, 2019: This is an updated version of a previously published story.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Eating for Your Bones

Eating for Your Bones

Article Featured on US News | By Lisa Esposito

SKELETONS IN A SCIENCE classroom are dangling structures of solid rods, disks and plates – simple building materials. But the living bones supporting your body are much more dynamic. “People think bone is some kind of inert substance,” says Dr. Michael Greger, founder of NutritionFacts.org. “But, actually, we’re remodeling our bone all the time. It’s a living, breathing organ that bleeds.” As your body continually breaks down and replenishes bone, you should feed it well.

Calcium from cow’s milk for strong bones has long been the conventional dietary wisdom. “When people think of calcium-rich foods, they think of dairy products,” says Carrie Dennett, a Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist. “But it’s good to look beyond these obvious sources.”

Eating canned sardines and canned salmon – as long as they still have their bones – is good for your bones, Dennett says. Dark, leafy green vegetables and other types of produce, including collard greens, broccoli rabe, turnip greens and kale, also promote bone health, she says. In addition to their antioxidant properties, fruits and vegetables contain nutrients like potassium, which help conserve calcium in the body.

“Not a big prune fan? Well, your bones like them,” Greger says. An evidence review published in the April 2017 issue of the journal Nutrients concluded that dried plums, e.g., prunes, guard against bone loss in women after menopause. That’s important because of older women’s increased risk of osteoporosis, falls and fractures as their bone mineral density decreases. Prunes help maintain bone-building cells called osteoblasts, Greger explains.

Almonds, on the other hand, help suppress osteoclasts, cells that break down bone tissue, according to a study from the University of Toronto published in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, in July 2011.

“Soy is one food that’s been put to the test and found to significantly improve bone function,” Greger says. In a comparison study, menopausal women who were randomly assigned to consume two glasses of soy milk daily showed increased bone mass after two years, he says. However, women in the control group, who received hormonal replacement treatment via skin patches, lost significant bone density in that time.

“You do see lower bone fracture rates in women who eat more soy,” Greger says. He recommends whole soy foods like edamame or tempeh, a traditional soy product from Indonesia.

Along with bone mass, older adults worry about losing muscle, Dennett points out. “We want to stay strong and stay healthy,” she says. “We need to keep our muscle for that.” Protein, which is essential for muscle health, has gotten a bad rap because of the lingering myth that it leaches calcium from the bones. “That’s not necessarily true,” she says. “Somebody would have to be getting excessive amounts. But getting an adequate amount of protein is good for both muscle and bone.” Balanced diets include healthy sources of lean protein.

The acid-alkaline diet– based on the premise of helping your body control its pH through diet –is often touted as beneficial for bone health, but it’s not, Dennett says. The reality is our body has other mechanisms for regulating acid-base balance in the body, including our rate of breathing,” she says. “So we don’t need to eat an ‘alkaline’ diet to prevent the body from pulling minerals from our bones to maintain blood pH.”

Bones need vitamins as well as minerals like calcium. Dark-green leafy vegetables are a good source of vitamin K, which promotes healthy bones, Greger says. However, he adds, avoid veggies such as spinach, beet greens and Swiss chard, because they contain substances called oxalates, which can bind up calcium. Low-oxalate vegetables (such as cabbage and cucumbers) are probably the most absorbable whole-food source of calcium – more so than cow’s milk, he adds.

Vitamin D plays an important role. One sign of vitamin D deficiency is softening of the bones, which is a precursor to osteoporosis, Dennett says. “Vitamin D is pretty much the only supplement I almost universally recommend to my patients,” she adds. “Most of us don’t get enough vitamin D from diet … and if we’re doing our due diligence by protecting our skin from the sun, then we’re probably not making enough natural vitamin D.”

To create a truly bone-friendly meal, try this, Greger suggests: “Trail mix: prunes and nuts, or maybe a nut-stuffed prune. Washed down with soy milk and then maybe with some dark-green leafy vegetables for dessert.”

As appealing as that may or may not sound, you could also turn to any of several top-ranked diets to boost your bone health. Plant-based diets such as the Mediterranean, Flexitarian and Ornish diets will meet all your leafy-green needs. Balanced eating plans including the DASH, MIND and Mayo Clinic diets provide plenty of healthy sources for all the fruits and veggies, fish, soy products, minerals and vitamins you require to keep bones strong.

Best Plant-Based Diets

#1Mediterranean Diet
#2The Flexitarian Diet
#3Ornish Diet
#4Vegetarian Diet
#5The Traditional Asian Diet
#6Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet
#7Nutritarian Diet
#8The Engine 2 Diet
#9Vegan Diet
#10Eco-Atkins Diet

DIET Ranking information as of January 3rd, 2018

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

best orthopaedic surgeons, albuquerque

Flexibility: A Must at Every Age

By Len Canter | Featured on US News

Flexibility is a component of all types of movement — from everyday activities to the most rigorous exercises. Being flexible helps you stay mobile and avoid injury.

Yet flexibility training often gets lost in the shuffle or pushed to the bottom of the list after cardio and strength training.

Its goal is to increase your range of motion — how far you can reach when, for instance, you bend from side to side, or raise your arm overhead to grab an item from a high shelf.

Flexibility is best achieved through static stretching, which are stretches you ease into and hold for 10 to 30 seconds while inhaling and exhaling — no bouncing, no holding your breath.

As you start a stretch, focus mentally on the muscles you’re targeting. Extend just to the point of discomfort; you shouldn’t feel any pain.

Here are three moves that target the lower body.

For your hamstrings, sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Think of your hips as a hinge and, with a straight back, lower your chest toward your thighs until you feel the stretch in the backs of your thighs. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

For your hips, stand up straight, facing a sturdy chair or table in case you need it for support. Raise the heel of your right foot behind you and use your right hand to press it toward your backside without moving your thigh or your hip out of alignment. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then switch legs and repeat.

For your calves, step forward with your right leg. Keep your left heel flat on the ground and press your left hip forward as you redistribute your weight over your right leg. Repeat 3 to 5 times, then switch legs and repeat.

Note: It’s important that muscles are warm before you do static stretches. They’re a great follow-up after every cardio workout, but do at least 2 or 3 focused sessions per week, targeting all muscle groups, and always after a minimum of 10 minutes of light activity.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.

Why Most New Year's Resolutions Fail and What You Should Do Instead

Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail and What You Should Do Instead

Article by Julie Christopher | Featured on Entrepreneur

Did you look forward to the holidays for a short rest to recharge your batteries, reflect upon your business and then start planning for the new year?

Many of my clients share that they enjoy the short break, but then harsh reality of life quickly sets in, and they complain about being tired, overworked and burned out. Can you relate? Most entrepreneurs and executives have high-performance expectations for themselves and can feel disappointed with their lack of progress regarding their health, relationships and their revenues after reflecting upon the past year. That’s when we are now convinced that something’s gotta change, right?

Suddenly, we are empowered and excited by moving into the “New Year.” We come up with all sorts of New Year’s resolution ideas. It’s our chance to start fresh like a new baby. We get in the car and rush to join the gym (again) while setting some great New Year’s resolutions for our body and our business, thinking to ourselves, This is it, this is my new year of success, prosperity and happiness.

A lot of people have great resolution ideas to achieve their goals, like automatic bank transfers for saving money and a new smartwatch to help with weight loss. However, statistics show that only 9.2 percent of people ever achieve their New Year’s resolutions and break free from their bad habits.

I believe that New Year’s resolutions not only don’t work but can make matters worse. Most people live in a safe comfort zone where they have scripted their life with their subconscious mind. The subconscious acts as a recording that repeats the same song over and over again. We might be telling ourselves all day long that we want something different from our past but, in vain, our history plays back by default, and we get the same results.

Do I need to remind you about the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting different results? Now that I have hopefully touched a sensitive nerve, you are probably asking, “So why do most New Year’s resolutions fail? If they don’t work, then what does work?”

The reasons why most New Year’s resolutions fail

Unfortunately, most of us create too much resistance by injecting too many resolutions and goals into our minds. We write down a long list of stuff like the following.

  • Double business revenues.
  • Get more online reviews.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Quit drinking.
  • Lose weight.
  • Spend more time with friends and family.
  • Read more books.
  • Eat more healthy food or stop eating junk food.
  • Learn to play an instrument.
  • Learn a new skill, like social media marketing.
  • Meet new people.
  • Travel more.

This process results in setting too many expectations and creating unrealistic goals. We end up with a long list of trying to do everything at once, relying on our emotions to keep us motivated until we achieve them.

So, what should you do instead of making New Year’s resolutions?

Change just one of your habits that creates the most change.

I discovered that making just one small change in your daily repetitive routine is a crucial step to alleviate the resistance that comes with change.

Remember that real change takes time, effort and patience. According to research from University College London, it takes about 66 days to completely break an old habit, and it can take much longer to master something new. While you are anchoring this unique pattern of action into your life, you are also uploading a new program in your subconscious. To stay motivated, it is important to celebrate even the smallest positive changes.

As you transform, it is very natural to experience different waves of emotion as you become more aware of how you feel. Honestly, self-awareness is the key to unlock all your potential for success.

21 habits of highly successful people

What do highly successful entrepreneurs have in common? They share productive habits that lead to prolific action which translates into positive outcomes and results!

Ultra-successful people like Bill GatesDaymond John, Oprah, Richard BransonMarcus Lemonis, Deepak Chopra and even Napoleon Bonaparte all share everyday habits that are proven to produce success:

Here’s just a list of the 21 habits of successful entrepreneurs:

  1. They keep a journal.
  2. They talk to themselves in a mirror.
  3. They meditate.
  4. They read.
  5. They embrace their fears.
  6. They know that failure is part of success.
  7. They associate with only positive people.
  8. They set intentions.
  9. They talk to the universe.
  10. They are thankful.
  11. They prioritize their time.
  12. They don’t sweat the small stuff.
  13. They focus on what they can control.
  14. They actively listen.
  15. They enjoy money as a byproduct of their dream.
  16. They don’t count on luck.
  17. They love having fun and celebrate.
  18. They forgive themselves and others.
  19. They never give up but will change when needed.
  20. They don’t make rash or emotional decisions.
  21. They listen to their intuition.

Hopefully, you noticed that most of these new habits are not activities, like going to the gym. Instead, they relate to creating new patterns for your thoughts. Once you change your thoughts, your habits and actions will automatically change, too.

It typically takes 21 days to shift into a new gear, so don’t give up! In his bestselling book Psycho-Cybernetics, author Dr. Maxwell Maltz says the “human mind takes almost exactly 21 days to adjust to a major life change.” Even though his research was originally on traumatic life events, he claims the principle applies “universally” and works just as well on positive changes.

If you can stick with it for only 21 days, you will have an excellent chance to succeed in achieving your goal because you changed just one habit. Commitment is key! You can do anything for 21 days, right?

Don’t worry if you fail for that day, just keep going to the next day and the next day after that. Remember to celebrate your small victories, so you train your subconscious brain to program you for continued success.

Start by doing something about today and don’t waste your time thinking about why it may not work, or you won’t do it. Your one new daily habit will soon replace your motivation, and it will become a consistent part of your life, like brushing your teeth.

The reason you are an entrepreneur is that you are far from average and taking educated risks gives you an edge. You rise up daily, make life-changing decisions, and you hopefully perform better every day by overcoming challenges and solving other people’s problems. You can do this!

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area. New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders. Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more. If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.
What to do with a torn ACL

What to do with a Torn ACL

Article Featured on BetterBraces

Soccer, basketball and football athletes most often experience ACL injuries, with nearly 200,000 cases seen each year. While this injury is more frequently seen in women than men, reasons for which include differences in muscular strength, physical conditioning and neuromuscular control, the cause, pain and treatment is the same.

Learn about ACL injuries and become a more educated athlete so you know when to seek medical attention and can return to your sport as soon as possible.


ACL stands for anterior cruciate ligament; this ligament runs diagonally across in the middle of your knee and has a number of duties: “It prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur, as well as provides rotational stability to the knee,” according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

When the ACL is injured, the surrounding ligaments and cartilage are often sprained as well. While the ACL could tear only partially, this is rare; more commonly there is a near complete or complete tear.


This injury is most common in athletes who play football, basketball and soccer for a reason-ACL tears happen as a result of rapid direction changes, improperly landing from a jump, stopping suddenly, and direct collision with another player, all of which are common aspects of these three sports.


When the tear happens you may hear a popping noise and/or feel your knee give out from under you. Within 24 hours you’ll begin to feel severe pain and swelling in your knee and aching or tenderness in the joint.


A medical professional may be able to determine the severity of your injury with a physical exam; in some cases you need an X-ray or MRI to confirm the diagnosis.

Once diagnosed, patients will almost always have to receive surgery. For older athletes, or those who are relatively inactive, a brace and physical therapy may be enough to heal the injury.

In almost every other case, however, a minimally invasive surgery is required to reconstruct the ligament. Post-surgery recovery time varies from one athlete to the next, but most people are able to return to their sport within six to nine months, according to Health.UCSD.edu.

ACL injuries are very common, and almost always result in a complete tear of the ligament. Work to prevent this injury by keeping your lower body strong with jump squats, lunges and landing practice.

Unfortunately, even a strong lower body can’t prevent an ACL tear. Knowing the symptoms ensures you can seek medical attention immediately, and ultimately results in a quick return to your sport.

The reality is that there is no quick fix to an ACL injury, however there is a solution to ease pain and speed up recovery: wearing an ACL brace.

With the right brace, the ACL will have the support it’s needed to take pressure off of it while you are rehabbing it back to health. Bracing stabilizes the knee while in motion and helps protect the knee during everyday life and sport. It also keeps you confidence up, knowing that you can return to your activity, at the skill level pre-injury, with the right protection. And with the latest technology, braces today are not bulky, letting you focus on your sport without any heavy equipment or fuss.

5 Signs of a Torn Rotator Cuff

5 Signs of a Torn Rotator Cuff

POSTED BY MICHAEL CARLSON, MD, Article Featured on Revere Health

A rotator cuff tear can totally disrupt your normal activities.  Pain from a rotator cuff injury could even awaken you from sleep, Prevention says.  However, early diagnosis and orthopedic treatment can help prevent loss of strength or motion.  

What’s a rotator cuff anyway?

The rotator cuff is at the top of each arm.  You can lift and rotate your arm thanks to this important structure.  Late baseball great Don Drysdale remarked that “A torn rotator cuff is a cancer for a pitcher.”  The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) describes it as the spot where tendons of four muscles combine to cover the upper end of your arm.Not everybody with a tear is an athlete.  Anybody can fall or get injured while lifting.  Everyday Health suggests that repetitive motions during activities like painting or carrying equipment every day often cause these tears.  So do bone spurs from aging.

Rotator cuff tears are one of the most common shoulder problems I see. The National Center for Biotechnology Information says tears occur in 25 percent of Americans older than 50 and 20 percent of those older than 20. According to the Hospital for Special Surgery, pinched nerves and shoulder arthritis are commonly mistaken for rotator cuff tears.The National Center for Biotechnology Information says tears occur in 25 percent of Americans older than 50 and 20 percent of those older than 20.You might not see any physical signs of a tear.  However, during an exam, I’d probably see atrophy of your shoulder muscles.  I’d also look for a kind of winging of your shoulder blade and might be able to feel a tendon defect.

What are the common signs of a tear?

1. Pain at night and at rest

You’ll really notice it when lying on the shoulder that’s hurt.  Initially, it might be intermittent.  Pain usually starts in the front of the shoulder, then radiates along the side of the arm.

2. Pain when you lift or lower your arm

It occurs when you make specific movements such as lifting or reaching.  Worsening pain means your tear is probably getting bigger.

3. Weakness when lifting or rotating an arm

Even activities like getting dressed or combing your hair might be difficult or impossible.  Weakness could be associated with either a traumatic injury or a chronic problem.

4. Crackling when moving your shoulder

You might find it odd.  Some say it’s a grating or a crinkling sound from under the skin.  It’s called crepitusand is a sign of inflammation or joint damage.

5. Snapping sensation and immediate weakness

They’re associated with an acute injury like a fall or from forceful activity like pitching.  Pain could extend the entire length of your arm.  Raising the arm over your head might be impossible.

What treatment options are there?

The most common non-surgical options I advise for tears include:

Anti-inflammatory drugs
Activity modification
Physical therapy
Steroid injections

I recommend surgery if you’re in sports, have a large tear, do overhead work or still have pain or weakness after several months.  Several types of repairs are available, depending on whether there’s a partial or full-thickness tear.

If you have signs of a tear, you need an evaluation by a doctor who specializes in orthopedics.  Many of my patients are young athletes with fast-paced lives.  As a skiing and golf enthusiast, I understand the desire to resume your activities.  I have considerable training in minimally invasive procedures and like to begin with conservative treatment.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area. New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders. Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more. If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.
6 Best Ice Packs For Knee Replacement Surgery (Plus DIY Ice Pack)

6 Best Ice Packs For Knee Replacement Surgery (Plus DIY Ice Pack)

Article Featured on Knee Replacement Discovery

Icing the knee isn’t the best part about TKR recovery. Most people, even athletes, dislike icing because it’s cold and uncomfortable (numbness and pain). However icing your knee after replacement surgery can be an extremely beneficial way to reduce inflammation and aid in a quicker recovery.

How can icing my knee help my recovery? We’ll address that question in this article and I’ll share my experience as an athlete, coach, and someone who’s gone through TKR surgery.

We’ll also discuss the best ice packs for knees after knee replacement surgery, what to look for in a good ice pack, and how to make a homemade icepack that actually works.

My Experience With Knee Pain, Inflammation, and Icing 

I’ve had a knee pain since I injured my knee in college. That was decades ago and I’ve managed to live with the pain. Over the years I’ve made subtle life adjustments to make things less painful.

I’ve adjusted my exercise to include swimming instead of running and always getting an isle seat for flights. For many years I was able to do all the things I loved without too much pain. I’m a firm believer that icing helped me reduce pain and inflammation.

Pain, no matter where on the body, is usually accompanied by inflammation. Inflammation works well to fight damage and repair the body by increasing blood flow.

When this occurs capillaries become permeable so blood cells, hormones and nutrients can enter the area and repair damage.

Fluid is usually made up of dead white blood cells and other bodily waste after it has been used in the area. For people like me with knee problems, the inflammation and swelling can become chronic when the body doesn’t realize the problem is too serious to repair (in my case no meniscus). The inflammation is uncomfortable and creates more pain.

When I was younger the inflammation from strenuous activity was minimal but in recent years it was creating more pain. I’ve had my knee drained a few times because there was too much fluid in the joint.

Icing has always been a part of my routine post-exercise. I’ll admit that I don’t ice all the time, only when I know I’ve overworked the knee. I keep ice packs in the freezer and after a game or hike I’ll grab an ice pack and rest on the couch while I watch the news. I’ve found that icing my knee for 10-15 minutes after exercise noticeably reduces swelling, and thus speeds up recovery.

After my TKR surgery, I’ve been more consistent with icing. It’s understandable that my ligaments, muscles, and bones will take time to adjust to my new knee.

My body alignment has also changed due to the fact I’m no longer limping. The surgeon recommended that I ice daily after surgery, elevate my leg, and also ice after physical therapy sessions (any exercise). Eventually, the swelling will subside as my knee heals (given there aren’t complications).

Best Ice Pack After Knee Replacement Surgery

#1Elasto-Gel Ice WrapFlexible gel, won’t leak$$
#2Adalid Ice PackRemovable gel pack (neoprene and nylon)$$
#3Shock Doctor Ice Pack and CompressionMultiple gels packs, adjustable straps$$
#4Ubertherm Ice Pack1 large removable gel pack, adjustable$$$
#5Therapaq Ice PackLarge surface area for heat and cooling$
#6DIYMade with household materials (soap, alcohol, salt, corn syrup)$

How Long Should I Ice My Knee After Knee Replacement Surgery

One question you might be asking is “how long should I ice my knee after surgery”. If you’re like me, swelling will occur most within 2-3 weeks of surgery and less-so from 3-6 months. Early on, icing is a great way to reduce inflammation and pain.

Most doctors will recommend icing your knee 3-4 times a day. 3-4 times per day for the first 2-3 weeks should be relatively simple because your mobility will be limited. After a few weeks, inflammation will gradually reduce, but icing can still work great to naturally decrease inflammation and pain.

If possible, plan to ice your knee daily for months after TKR surgery. Icing will be of value years later too after exercising. If you can make it part of your daily routine it would be smart (for example, 10 minutes every night before bed).

How To Ice Your Knee After Knee Replacement Surgery

Icing your knee is simple and straightforward. The ice helps stop inflammation (associated with heat) in its tracks. Icing can be as simple as a zip-lock bag and ice cubes from the freezer or a specialized ice pack with a wrap to keep the ice secure to your knee.

If you’re using a homemade ice pack (zip-lock) make sure you have a layer of fabric between the bag and your skin. If the ice rests directly against the skin (or thin layer of plastic) it could cause burning.

Wrap the zip-lock bag in a cotton towel then apply to your knee. Zip-lock bags can also leak or perspire so check to make sure there isn’t water coming off the bag.

If you purchase an ice wrap it will be ready to go with fabric to protect your skin and it will likely have a strap to tie the ice to your knee. An ice wrap won’t leak or perspire and will be more user-friendly. Ice wraps are also reusable so you don’t have to worry about running out of ice (see options below).

When icing your knee it’s good practice to elevate it to heart level using a few pillows. Elevation will help reduce swelling and cycle fluid out of your leg where it can be processed by your body. You can elevate your leg while icing, but it is important to elevate your knee whenever you are sitting period.R

Best Knee Ice Wrap After Knee Replacement Surgery

What makes the best ice wrap for your knee? Early on I was using ice cubes and a zip-lock bag. Was it effective for icing? Yes, however, there were also problems.

The plastic bags occasionally leaked and they always perspired. They also fell off my knee again and again and I had to rearrange them or pick them up.

After a few days, we upgraded to an ice wrap to save the hassle of making ice cubes and cleaning up water leaks. The ice wrap was reusable so we saved water in the process. The wrap I use has reusable gels that are included with the wrap, they fit inside the wrap and it is applied around my knee with straps.

I can adjust the straps on the wrap to compress the ice against my knee. It’s easy and when I’m finished I throw in the freezer for a few hours until I’m ready to use again.

It helps to have 2 wraps to make sure one is always frozen. Below are a few knee ice wraps that I like. Any of these would be useful after TKR surgery and they will last forever.

#1 Elasto-Gel Ice Wrap 

When I came home after my TKR surgery I began icing with the Cryo Cuff (you can read about the Cryo Cuff here).  The Cryo Cuff saved me time and money on ice.  I filled up the cooler once a day and kept the device near my recliner. I used the same water/ice all day and didn’t have to worry about fetching it from the freezer.

When I began my physical therapy, the therapist mentioned the Elasto-Gel Ice Wrap.  I was told that it was the ice wrap preferred by physical therapists because it didn’t leak, was comfortable and easily conforms to the knee.

>> check Elasto-Gel price on amazon 

When I tried their Elasto-Gel Wrap I wasn’t disappointed and decided to purchase one for myself.  Transitioning from the Cryo Cuff to the Elsasto-Gel was a good decision when I became more mobile because I had to keep it cold in the freezer.

The Elasto-Gel is soft and uses velcro to tighten the wrap.  It’s also oversized so it fits all knee sizes.  This was a great investment for me and I plan to continue using it throughout my first year of recovery.

#2 Knee Support Brace Wrap with Ice Gel Pack – Adalid Gear

Adalid makes a nice quality wrap specifically for the knee and elbow. This product only uses 1 gel pack but it’s a large pack (7.3 x 8.5 inches). The pack fits in an inside pocket on top of the knee and is strapped on securely by an upper and lower strap. Similar to other wraps on this list, the pack can also be heated for heat therapy.

The brace is an adjustable stretch-type material made from neoprene, nylon, and polyester. The gel pack is leak-proof and reusable in nylon (heated and cooled). The ice pack can be used for 20 minutes at a time then refrozen. It can also be hand washed if needed.

>> check Adalid Knee Wrap price on Amazon 

The ice wrap weighs 1.1 lbs and is guaranteed for one year with a no hassle replacement. Because it uses 1 ice pack, it will not be able to ice the back of the knee. If you’re creative you might be able to make it work for the back of the knee but the main downside to this wrap is only 1 ice pack (but it’s big).

In some ways, one large ice pack will be easier to manage than having to arrange multiple smaller ice packs – your call.

#3 Shock Doctor Ice Recovery Compression Knee Wrap

The Shock Doctor is a perfect ice wrap for knees. It is contoured to fit any knee at a slight bend. It uses adjustable straps and gel ice packs. Although it’s advertised for tendonitis, knee bruises, and strains, it is perfect for people like me recovering from knee replacement surgery.

This compression wrap comes in 2 sizes (S/M or L/XL). In the smaller sizes there are 3 ice packs while the larger have 4 ice packs. All ice packs are removable and reusable.

The wrap uses kycra pockets for the ice packs and N-Tex neoprene for the wrap material. It is latex free. The wrap only weighs 1 pound so it’s lightweight too.

>> check Shock Doctor Knee Wrap on Amazon

I like the fact it adds a compression component to the icing and the adjustable straps allow the user to tighten to comfort without worrying about the ice falling off. Reviews say that patients love it for their knee replacement and that it stays cold longer than your typical ice pack. It can also be used for heating!

#4 Ubertherm Compression Ice Wrap

Ubertherm is a popular ice wrap made for reducing inflammation and knee pain. It uses 1 large ice pack that covers the knee. The ice pack can also be adjusted (reversed) to ice the back of the knee as well.

The cold pack uses multiple chambers of gel that doesn’t freeze (never below 34 degrees F) into an ice block. Rather, it gets cold and holds some flexibility. The gel will stay cold up to an hour and refreezes in an hour – longer than others on our list.

Ubertherm markets their product as providing a longer icing time, comfortable, with good strap support. The gel can be removed as packets so the wrap can be washed. It weighs 1.8 lbs and measures 12.2 x 5.2 x 4 inches. Ubertherm is a U.S. company based in Maryland.

>> check Ubertherm Ice Wrap price on Amazon

Reviews mention it works great without the hassle of ice. Others mention the quality is superb but they must keep the leg straight while icing (should be expected right). I like the appearance and the fact its gel never freezes too much – it remains at the perfect temperature for icing.

#5 TheraPAQ Large Reusable Gel Ice Pack w/ Wrap

The TheraPAQ is the simplest product on our list, but its simplicity also makes it a good option for post-TKR surgery. The ice pack comes as a gel pack that is a large rectangle. The gel pack fits inside a rectangle pack that can be strapped to the leg.

The straps are made with elastic and Velcro. Its design is functional and it doesn’t offer the knee contouring that other ice wraps on our list offer. The pack can be taken out of its sleeve and put in the freezer or heated.

I like the product and the price – and so do other customers. It comes with a money back guarantee if you aren’t 100% satisfied (any time). TheraPAQ weighs 2 lbs and measures 11 x 14 inches, making it one of the larger ice packs on our list.

>> check TheraPaq price and reviews on Amazon

Due to its large flat design, it might work better on flat body parts (like the back) than it does for rounded areas of the body like the knee. However, it has good enough reviews to be an option to ice my knee after knee replacement.

Ice Pack For Knee: Homemade Options (How To Make A Cold Homemade Ice Pack For Your TKR)

If you’re a true do-it-yourselfer (DIY) I’m also including an option to make your own ice pack. I mentioned earlier that adding ice cubes to a zip-lock bag is the simplest solution and as long as you’re not worried about excess moisture or leakage then you can go with it – I’ve done it before and it works.

If you’re willing to give a little more effort you can make your own gel-like ice pack. It won’t cost much but it will take you some time. If you make multiple homemade ice packs then you can always have one frozen ready to use while the other is refreezing. Below are a few options. Let us know what DIY ice pack works best for your TKR recovery.

Homemade gel ice pack

The homemade gel ice pack requires three items. First, you’ll need a few gallon-sized zip-lock bags (the big ones). Second, you’ll need 2 cups of water, and finally 1 cup of rubbing alcohol. The rubbing alcohol will keep the water from completely freezing and it will be more malleable to fit around your knee.

Mix the 2 cups of water and 1 cup of rubbing alcohol in a zip-lock bag and seal. When you seal it, make sure all of the air can escape.

Now, put the first bag into another zip-lock bag. You can even use a third zip-lock bag to ensure there isn’t a leak.
Put all the bags into the freezer for 1 hour and the contents should result in a gel-like substance perfect for icing. If you need some extra help, check out the video below.

Homemade ice pack salt

A homemade ice pack with salt results in a slush-like substance that can be effective for icing after knee replacement surgery. Salt decreases the temperature needed to freeze water and adding a few tablespoons to water will make the perfect ice pack that can be used again and again.

To make the salt ice pack add 2 tablespoons of salt to 2 cups of water. For a gallon sized zip-lock use 3 cups water and 3 tablespoons of salt. Place the zip-lock bag inside another zip-lock bag to make sure nothing will leak and you’ve got a DIY ice pack for knee replacement rehab.

Homemade ice pack with dish soap or corn syrup

Another option is to use dish soap or corn syrup as your liquid instead of water. You can dump a whole container of dish soap in a zip-lock bag and you don’t need any other ingredients. The same goes for corn syrup.

While writing this I wondered, “why use dish soap or corn syrup – it’s wasteful” then I remembered you can always use the dish soap later after you’ve stopped icing (just refill the container it came in. I like this idea.

A corn syrup or dish soap leak would be horrible to clean so do the same as recommended above and use a few zip-lock bags to make sure there’s a seal.

Homemade ice pack rice, coins, or frozen vegetables

Use these only in case of emergency! These are options, but honestly, they won’t work as good as ice or homemade gel. Rice, coins, and vegetables can be frozen and they will retain the cold long enough to ice your knee, but there are better options above.

Homemade ice packs are not created equal. if I had to choose one, I’d go with the water + alcohol or water + salt. Try these out and let us know which one is best for you.

Can You Ice Too Much After Knee Replacement

I’ve been asked if there is such a thing as “icing too much”. Generally, you don’t want ice on your knee all day. Exercise and movement is an important part of healing so don’t remain in one position and ice your knee constantly.

In my experience, icing should be done alternatively with movement. Early after TKR surgery, you’ll be icing more often. After a few months, you’ll likely ice less often.

The length of time you ice matters and you won’t want to ice for longer than 15-20 minutes at a time. Longer icing might damage skin or cause localized frostbite.

Excessive Swelling After Knee Replacement Surgery

Swelling should be expected after knee replacement surgery so there’s no cause for alarm. Swelling can remain for 3-4 months after surgery and that’s why icing is so important.

In addition to ice, there are a few recommendations that medical professionals say should be followed. These good practices are:

  • Compression

Compression can be applied to the knee to reduce swelling and pooling of fluid in the leg. Compression stockings go on the leg and are tight against the skin (think of a tight sock).

They are also used when we are standing for long periods of time or exercising. Standing activities will increase blood flow and swelling to the area.

  • Elevation

In the section above I mentioned how to incorporate elevation with icing. Elevation can also be done on its own while watching television.

Elevation also reduces swelling and promotes proper blood flow throughout the body. When using elevation to reduce fluid in the leg, try to elevate the leg to the same level as the heart. This can be done for 20-30 minutes and be used in combination with ice.

  • Exercise

Most importantly, exercise. Exercise can promote swelling if strenuous but it also increases blood flow and helps to reduce blood clots in the leg after surgery.

Exercise post-knee replacement should be low-impact and short (start slow and consult your doctor). Getting the blood pumping through the body is great for circulation and you can follow up the exercise with ice and elevation.

What About Heating My Knee

Heating your knee is something you’ll probably do after knee replacement surgery. I use heat the opposite way than I use ice. Before physical therapy, exercise, or stretching, I use heat to warm up the knee and attract blood and improve elasticity.

Heating can help loosen the joint and attract blood – we’re going for the opposite effect with icing which usually occurs after activity or during recovery.


In this article, we discussed icing after knee replacement surgery. I discussed my experience icing my knee and the relief I received when icing to reduce inflammation.

We also discussed how inflammation works, the length of time to ice and how long you should be icing your knee after surgery. There were 3 other activities to remember in addition to icing that will help reduce inflammation and pain.

1) Elevation will help reduce fluid build up in the leg.

2) Compression will discourage swelling and the risk of blood clots after surgery.

3) Exercise – although it might not sound like a good idea right after TKR surgery, exercise is important for blood circulation and helps flush out toxins while strengthening the muscles and ligaments around the knee.

There are many different knee ice wraps on the market that make icing an easier task. While you can create your own ice packs, sometimes buying an ice wrap is more effective and less of a hassle in the long run. We really like the Uberthereum Compression Wrap because it’s functional and has been well reviewed.

If a DIY project is in order, try out the variety of homemade ice packs that can be made using just a few ingredients and handy zip-lock bags. Multiple homemade ice packs can be made and rotated to use as another refreezes. Just remember to use multiple bags to reduce leakage and wrap the ice pack in cloth to avoid freezer burn of the skin.

I hope you enjoyed this article and my experience recovering from total knee replacement surgery. It’s been a long road, with preparation, surgery, and recovery but the result is worth it. I hope you regain your health and mobility just like I did.

Why Does My Hip Hurt? 8 Causes of Hip Pain & Problems

Why Does My Hip Hurt? 8 Causes of Hip Pain & Problems

The hip joint can withstand repeated motion and a fair amount of wear and tear. This ball-and-socket joint — the body’s largest — fits together in a way that allows for fluid movement. 

Whenever you use the hip (for example, by going for a run), a cushion of cartilage helps prevent friction as the hip bone moves in its socket.

Despite its durability, the hip joint isn’t indestructible. With age and use, the cartilage can wear down or become damaged. Muscles and tendons in the hip can get overused. Bones in the hip can break during a fall or other injury. Any of these conditions can lead to hip pain.

If your hips are sore, here is a rundown of what might be causing your discomfort and how to get hip pain relief.

Causes of Hip Pain

These are some of the conditions that commonly cause hip pain:

Tendinitis. Tendons are the thick bands of tissue that attach bones to muscles. Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of the tendons. It’s usually caused by repetitive stress from overuse.

Muscle or tendon strain. Repeated activities can put strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the hips. When they become inflamed due to overuse, they can cause pain and prevent the hip from working normally.

Hip labral tear. This is a rip in the ring of cartilage (called the labrum) that follows the outside rim of the socket of your hip joint. Along with cushioning your hip joint, your labrum acts like a rubber seal or gasket to help hold the ball at the top of your thighbone securely within your hip socket. Athletes and people who perform repetitive twisting movements are at higher risk of developing this problem.

Cancers. Tumors that start in the bone or that spread to the bone can cause pain in the hips, as well as in other bones of the body.

Avascular necrosis (also called osteonecrosis). This condition happens when blood flow to the hip bone slows and the bone tissue dies. Although it can affect other bones, avascular necrosis most often happens in the hip. It can be caused by a hip fracture or dislocation, or from the long-term use of high-dose steroids (such as prednisone), among other causes.

Symptoms of Hip Pain

Depending on the condition that’s causing your hip pain, you might feel the discomfort in your:

  • Thigh
  • Inside of the hip joint
  • Groin
  • Outside of the hip joint
  • Buttocks

Sometimes pain from other areas of the body, such as the back or groin (from a hernia), can radiate to the hip.

You might notice that your pain gets worse with activity, especially if it’s caused by arthritis. Along with the pain, you might have reduced range of motion. Some people develop a limp from persistent hip pain.

Hip Pain Relief

If your hip pain is caused by a muscle or tendon strain, osteoarthritis, or tendinitis, you can usually relieve it with an over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

Rheumatoid arthritis treatments also include prescription anti-inflammatory medications such as corticosteroids, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) like methotrexate and sulfasalazine, and biologics, which target the immune system.

Another way to relieve hip pain is by holding ice to the area for about 15 minutes a few times a day. Try to rest the affected joint as much as possible until you feel better. You may also try heating the area. A warm bath or shower can help ready your muscle for stretching exercises that can lessen pain.

If you have arthritis, exercising the hip joint with low-impact exercises, stretching, and resistance training can reduce pain and improve joint mobility. For example, swimming is a good non-impact exercise for arthritis. Physical therapy can also help increase your range of motion.

When osteoarthritis becomes so severe that the pain is intense or the hip joint becomes deformed, a total hip replacement (arthroplasty) may be a consideration. People who fracture their hip sometimes need surgery to fix the fracture or replace the hip.

Call your health care provider if your pain doesn’t go away, or if you notice swelling, redness, or warmth around the joint. Also call if you have hip pain at night or when you are resting.

Get medical help right away if:

  • The hip pain came on suddenly.
  • A fall or other injury triggered the hip pain.
  • Your joint looks deformed or is bleeding.
  • You heard a popping noise in the joint when you injured it.
  • The pain is intense.
  • You can’t put any weight on your hip.
  • You can’t move your leg or hip.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on March 22, 2018

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopaedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopaedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopaedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.