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Minimally invasive orthopedic procedures at Winchester Medical Center make for good sports

Saying that Betsy Morgan lives an active lifestyle is an understatement. She works as a counselor at a West Virginia middle school, supporting teaching staff and more than 700 students and their families. She exercises at the gym several times a week, and enjoys biking and race walking. But a few years ago she thought joint pain in her hips had sidelined her for good.

“Every movement was excruciating,” she recalls. “I couldn’t even think about participating in sports, since walking, getting out of the car and even turning over in bed were agonizing experiences.”

Morgan, like many other local patients, was able to get the expert care she needed at Winchester Medical Center (WMC). The orthopedic specialists at WMC provide a full complement of services for both athletes and nonathletes alike.

Morgan had undergone posterior hip replacement surgery in 2014 for her left hip but was excited to learn she was a candidate for an anterior hip replacement procedure on her right hip after consulting with orthopedic surgeon Abbey Gore, MD. The minimally invasive anterior approach allows the surgeon to access the joint without cutting muscle tissue, providing significant benefits.

“The anterior approach results in less trauma and faster healing times for patients,” explains Dr. Gore. “Most are walking the same day as their surgeries, spend less time in the hospital and have significantly less pain. Patient-athletes and those who have done ‘prehab’ are usually able to resume normal activities, including sports, pain-free after a few weeks.”

Joint Efforts

James Larson, MD, orthopedic surgeon and specialist in sports medicine, also offers patients minimally invasive surgical options at WMC and frequently performs arthroscopic surgery on those with shoulder and arm pain resulting from rotator cuff or labral tears.

“Patients with a rotator cuff tear may experience pain after a fall or injury or during repetitive activities like golfing or gardening. Those with labral tears, like baseball pitchers and weightlifters, arrive at my office complaining about pain while working out,” says Dr. Larson. “Some shoulder injuries can be treated with medication and physical therapy, but when those treatments don’t work, there are exceptionally effective, arthroscopic surgical techniques that can be employed.”

During traditional “open” rotator cuff surgery, the joint is accessed by disconnecting the deltoid muscle from the bone, which results in a damaged muscle that requires treatment following the repairs to the joint. The minimally invasive approach results in significantly less muscle damage, since the repairs to the joint are made through tiny incisions and don’t require disconnection of the deltoid. In addition, the use of an arthroscope provides the surgeon with better visualization during the procedure, so secondary problems—like spurs or loose cartilage—can be identified and repaired, eliminating the need for subsequent medical intervention.

Of course, not all candidates for minimally invasive joint surgery are athletes or those who have been injured. Age-related wear and tear can cause joint damage over time, so people 60 years and older who have chronic pain and notice a limited range of motion may also be good candidates.

Smooth Road to Recovery

“I was out of work for 10 weeks after my first surgery,” Morgan says, “but my recovery after the second minimally invasive procedure was incredibly fast. I was back at work less than three weeks after Dr. Gore performed the surgery using the anterior approach.”

Getting back to her fitness routine—and pain-free movement—was important to Morgan. It’s fair to say that for most patients, minimally invasive surgical options provide a quicker return to an active lifestyle … and make for “good sports.”