'Joint Class 101' off to a strong start

Dearborn, Mich. – April –  Fred Goethe didn’t know what to do.

For about three weeks, the 63-year-old Canton resident had been bothered by nagging pain in his hip that made it difficult to sleep and get around as well as he used to. Goethe decided he needed to find out what caused the ache as well as what to do about it and, after a little research, found himself in the first Joint 101 class sponsored by Oakwood Healthcare. He said he’s glad he did.

“It was very educational,” he said. “I was really impressed with it.”

One part, lecture, one part question-and-answer period and one part informal evaluation, Joint Class 101 brings orthopedic specialists, family doctors and physical therapists to small groups of people concerned about lingering pain in their hips, knees or shoulders. The free class allows time for the physicians to talk about issues and potential treatments, along with time for audience members to ask specific questions. They break up into small groups so attendees have some individual time with the doctors, too. Mary Zatina, senior vice president of government relations, corporate planning and communications for OHI, said the goal is to inform, not recruit.

“People make better health care decisions when they are equipped with information. Our physicians know a great deal about the anatomy of the human body, the causes of joint pain and the many options for addressing joint pain. Through Joint Class 101, a panel of physicians and therapists will share their extensive knowledge in simple terms that everyone can understand,” she said.

“Joint pain can be a serious quality of life issue and we want everyone to know exactly what their options are so they can resume active lives without the pain,” she added.

There are a wide variety of treatment options available, anything from injections to over-the-counter medicine to physical therapy or major or minor surgery. Sometimes, changing shoes is all that’s necessary to alleviate a chronic pain, according to Karen Weaver, MD, a family doctor who was a member of the initial panel of experts.

A 46-year-old attendee who leads an active lifestyle wanted to find out the best way to eliminate the arthritis that impacted both his knees. He was concerned about the stigma associated with total joint replacement—as well as how well the replacements would hold up. Dr. Eric Silberg, an orthopedic specialist and surgeon had this advice: don’t let age be a factor in considering things like knee replacement or physical therapy.

“I always tell people that I would happily trade active years in their 40s for active years in their 70s or 80s,” said Silberg. “Even professional athletes work with physical therapists—and they couldn’t be more active.

“Age is not a factor—it’s your health and spirit,” he added. “It’s really about quality of life and if you want a better quality of life.”

The Joint 101 classes are free and will take place every two weeks, either at the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center (OHMC) in Dearborn or at the Oakwood Southshore Medical Center (OSMC) in Trenton. They will feature a moderator along with primary care physicians, surgeons or physical medication and rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians talking about a variety of joint-related issues as well as a question and answer period. Attendees can expect plenty of information in language that is easy to understand.

The next class is from 6-7:30 p.m. on April 21 at the OSMC in Trenton. The next Dearborn class is from 6-7:30 p.m. on April 28 at OHMC. For more information or to register, call (800) 543-WELL or visit www.oakwood.org.