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Knee, shoulder and hip seminars provide options for those in pain

Joe and Doris Duffey, both 92, don't get around as well as they used to.

"It could be old age – too many miles on the car," Joe Duffey said with a smile last week.

He and his wife both struggle with knee osteoarthritis. He uses a cane because his arthritis has weakened his left knee; she sometimes gets pain in both of hers.

The Williamsville couple was among 170 people last week to attend the latest Join the Movement seminar presented by surgeons with Excelsior Orthopeadics & Sports Medicine, which has offices in the Northtowns and Southtowns.

Sessions focus on steps that can be taken to address knee, hip or shoulder pain – including both surgical and non-surgical approaches.

The Duffeys have received corticosteroid and similar injections twice a year during the last decade to ease the symptoms in their arthritic knees. They and their daughter, Susan Baker, attended a seminar at Columns Banquets in Elma to learn more other options that might be more effective.

"A lot is based on the symptoms and how they affect a patient," said Dr. David Pula, an Excelsior orthopedic surgeon who generally works in the Orchard Park office. "Some people may go years with that treatment before they decide to go forward with a knee replacement…

"Lots of people ask if there is a way you can save them a big surgery and manage their knee pain," Dr. David Pula says. He shares information during seminars about treatments that can ward off surgery.

"One of the hardest thing patients have is figuring out which doc to see and to get some basic information," Pula said. "This type of presentation is a great opportunity to interact personality-wise, display the type of person you are – your interests – and provide a lot of information to a large group of people in a short period of time."

The seminars are free, light refreshments are included, and those who attend go home with an informational booklet that includes options for managing pain and limitations. Registration is required.

Pula talked last week about what causes knee pain, available non-operative treatments, when it's likely time for surgery, what the post-operative period is like and what caregivers can expect. Lots of husbands, wives, parents and children attended.

He laid out the continuum of care for his audience, including injections, braces, physical therapy, and partial and full knee replacement surgery. He also described two relatively new biological injection procedures – Platelet-Rich Plasma injections (PRP) and Mesenchymal stem cell therapy (MSC) – that can ward off surgery. The procedures are so new that insurance rarely covers them at this point, Pula said.

PRP involves withdrawing blood from the patient, enriching it with a centrifuge and injecting it into a patient. The process stimulates a series of biological responses that can promote healing, according to arthritis-health.com.

MSC therapy works similarly to PRP. In this case, stem cells can be removed from fat tissue and injected into areas impacted by osteoarthritis.

Pula answered questions for about an hour after his half-hour presentation.

"Lots of people ask if there is a way you can save them a big surgery and manage their knee pain. They like to know a lot of basic questions about surgery: 'How long does the recovery take?' 'Is there a lot of pain?' 'What are some of the basic risks?' Lots of people want to know about the new technology, what a knee replacement is made of (cobalt chromium)."

Doris Duffey, a retired registered nurse who worked for two decades at VA Medical Center, said twice-yearly shots of Monovisc, a highly purified, partially cross-linked sodium hyaluronate, are working well on both her knees.

Her husband, a retired chemical engineer, is seriously considering a partial left knee replacement. He's gone through the X-ray process, attended a few seminars and will meet with Pula again next week.

"I used to take 3-mile walks and had to taper off because it got a little painful," he said. He also struggles to climb stairs.

Joe Duffey also has been encouraged watching his daughter's husband, Richard, who had a total knee replacement seven years ago, at age 62. He has since returned to golf and has gotten around much better since.

"He's doing great," Susan Baker said. "As a matter of fact, getting his left knee replaced the other knee turned out to be fine. He wasn't overcompensating."

She said she and her parents were pleased with last week's seminar.

"I thought Dr. Pula presented all the information in terms that were easily understood," she said. "He was very open to questions. He took the time to listen to each question and answer them in a general format so everyone could apply the information."

Upcoming talks will include:

Knee pain: With Dr. Adam Burzynski, 7 p.m. Thursday, Antonio's Banquet & Conference Center, 7708 Niagara Falls Blvd., Niagara Falls.

Hip pain: With Dr. Nicholas Violante, 7 p.m. May 24, Excelsior Orthopaedics, 3925 Sheridan Drive, Amherst.

Shoulder pain: With Dr. Kory Reed, 7 p.m. June 7, The Columns Banquets, 2221 Transit Road, Elma.

Knee pain: With Dr. Peter Shields, 7 p.m. June 21, Excelsior Orthopaedics, Amherst.

Knee pain: With Dr. Andrew Stoeckl, 7 p.m. Sept. 6, The Columns Banquets, Elma.

Shoulder pain: With Dr. Timothy McGrath, 7 p.m. Sept. 20, Antonio's Banquet & Conference Center, Niagara Falls.

Register for each seminar at excelsiorortho.com/classes or call 250-6409

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