Arm and Leg Pain and TMS Don’t we all wish we were like television’s “Bionic Man” or “Bionic Woman” with arms and legs that never can hurt? We actually have such limbs, if we believe in TMS. A recent report from the Harvard Medical School says, as we know, science has not progressed far enough to fit us with superhero-like bionic parts, but it has enabled those who need it to get a surgically-replaced hip, knee, shoulder, or other joint that is damaged by overuse or arthritis. Replacement joints are made from plastic, metal, or a combination of the two materials that can help a person move more easily and with less pain. The report also offers suggestions on how to avoid joint surgery and get more life out of our joints. Our desire to stay active, and our disdain for discomfort, sends more than 770,000 of us to orthopedic surgeons each year for a hip or knee replacement. We're turning to our doctors for these surgeries much earlier in life, too. Unlike our grandparents, who used to gamely limp around with a bum hip or knee, "we're getting spoiled," says Dr. Scott Martin, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at HarvardMedicalSchool. "A lot of joint replacements are being done because they can be." But, says Dr, Martin, the rush to surgery isn’t necessarily healthy. Any surgical procedure can carry risk of complications, even death. And since the average replacement joint only lasts 10 to 15 years, having the procedures done at age 50 instead of 70 means there’s a good chance a person will need a second procedure when they’re older, and at higher risk for complications. “I tell patients, ‘Look, it’s like getting a new pair of shoes. It’s going to wear out.’” The report says that before turning to surgery for artificial joints that may eventually wear out, try these tips to extend the life of your own natural joints. Lose weight. One of the best things you can do for your joint is to take excess weight off of them. Most joint replacements are done on people who are overweight. For every extra pound we carry around, we put about three pounds of additional pressure on our knees, and multiply the pressure on your hips by six. And if you have arthritis, just losing 15 pounds can reduce your knee pain by 50 percent. If you eventually do need a joint replacement, losing weight beforehand can reduce your risk of complications from surgery. Exercise. Exercise can help you avoid joint surgery. The report says that even with sore, weakened knees and hips, you can work out, as long as you stick with exercises that are gentle on your joints, such as walking, riding a stationary bike, or swimming. Protect your Joints. Using poor posture and the wrong techniques during your daily activities adds more stress to damaged joints. Just by standing up straight instead of slouching you can protect the joints in your neck, hips, and knees. Bend your knees when you lift or carry anything heavy. If any activity hurts, stop doing it right away. Try medical treatment. Corticosteriod injections given directly to a swollen joint can bring down pain and inflammation enough to help you get around more easily with less pain. The effects can last from four to six months. But steroid injections may not work if the joint is already severely damaged. Viscosupplementation involves injecting a lubricating fluid into damaged knee joint in treating osteoarthritis, but studies show that doesn’t work any better than steroid injections. It is another alternative for pain relief and mobility if other treatment haven’t worked or the patient cannot tolerate them. Get pain relief. Instead of going to a doctor right away to treat sore joints, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve), or the prescription medicine celecoxib (Celebrex) can relieve both joint inflammation and pain. But check with your doctor before taking these medicine because they may have side effects including upset stomach, bleeding, and kidney and liver damage. Only take them for the shortest possible time to relieve your discomfort Commercials for Celebrex tell of more potentially dangerous side effects. The jury is still out on whether dietary supplements glucosamine and chondroitin can help with arthritis pain. While they don’t rebuild joints, they may help with the pain. Fish oil also may help prevent pain in our joints, the jury is also out on that. Both glucosamine and chondroitin, as well as fish oil, may work as placebos, if we tell our mind they help. When to consider surgery. If you can’t escape from the pain even while at rest, it may only be relieved by narcotic medications, or if your mobility is severely compromised, then consider a joint replacement. Dr. Martin says, “I would stick with your own joint if you can, but if it’s physically, mentally, or emotionally wearing you down, then it’s time to have it done.” First, before considering joint replacement surgery, find out all of your treatment alternatives. Know exactly what the surgery may do for you, what complications it might have, and what is involved in recovery and rehabilitation. And find out exactly how long you’ll need to stay off the joint after surgery. The Harvard report does not mention TMS, but those who know about it, such as those who have read about Dr. John Sarno and his theory that if a pain is not caused structurally, it may be psychologically caused by one or more repressed emotions. That’s a route thousands have taken instead of drugs, surgery, or joint replacement and a person can do it at home for free, so why not give it a chance to heal as it has many others? I’m not a doctor so I am not recommending any of the treatments in this essay, just passing it on to you for your consideration.