Mobility: The Art of Modern Orthopedics

A Conversation with Dr. Mark Hermann of Danville Orthopedic Clinic

Mark Hermann lives an active lifestyle. He’s an avid biker and outdoorsman who works hard and plays hard. He’s also an orthopedic surgeon who understands that our body is our strongest asset. We rely on it for everything from crawling to mountain climbing. General health and maintaining an active lifestyle is wise and when that lifestyle is interrupted or challenged by joint or muscle pain, you have options.

Our muscles and joints evolve as we age. Some people think that activity is bad for your joints. But according to Dr. Hermann, “Joints were made to move. Being sedentary is actually counterproductive.” Of course, with activity, there is the risk of injury or accident. “In young people, you see more accidents from activities like biking, skiing, and skateboarding.”

In young adults, most injuries are more a consequence of traumatic events such as car accidents, falls, sports injuries, and alcohol-related injuries. Overuse injuries, caused from repetitive microtrauma (repetitive motion injuries to muscles and ligaments) are common in all age groups, especially athletically active adults. In the elderly, falls cause most injuries. “As we age and yet remain active, we often have complaints of joint pain. These become more common in our fifties or early sixties, but sometimes earlier,” Dr. Hermann says.

A little soreness is normal, especially after working out, but when it becomes painful or it affects normal activity then you need to think about getting treatment. It may be as simple as needing ice, rest, or over-the-counter medicines like Advil (Ibuprofen) and Tylenol (Acetaminophen). But if those aren’t helping or if the pain persists, you should probably see a doctor.

In many people, joint pain becomes a problem as we get older. When you start to experience joint pain, you don’t necessarily have to quit being active; you may just have to modify your activity. Dr. Hermann says, “For instance, if you enjoy tennis and running you might back off on the running and keep the tennis if that’s the one you enjoy the most. It’s all about modifying behavior rather than becoming sedentary.”

For those with joint pain, there are many non-surgical solutions. The best course of treatment is usually to work your way up from the simplest answer to the most complex. “You start with activity modification and the use of Tylenol or other over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines,” Dr. Hermann says. “Other forms of non-surgical procedures include injections of medicines like cortisone or joint lubricants which are often helpful.” But when those less intrusive measures are failing and one’s life is affected in a negative manner by their joint condition, then joint replacement surgery may offer a good solution.

The most common forms of joint replacement surgery are knee and hip. Shoulder, ankle, and elbow replacements are less common. The purpose of surgery is to lessen pain and improve joint function. “Surgery is all about improving quality of life. It is generally a very successful operation and most people can improve their independence while remaining active,” Dr. Hermann says. “It is truly a life changing event for most people.”

Of course there are some downsides. Some people develop stiffness after joint replacements, though most of these people had stiffness before surgery. Some are more inclined to develop scar tissue than others. To a large extent, you can influence the outcome of your joint replacement surgery. Doing the proper exercises before surgery and following through with all of your post-surgery rehabilitation is essential.

Having the team at Danville Regional Medical Center and the doctors at Danville Orthopedic Clinic handle your surgery is a step in the right direction. “In joint replacement surgeries, we have infection rates dramatically lower than the national average,” Dr. Hermann says. “Everyone is well trained. Our group has grown and developed and recently added rheumatology, spine surgery, and pain management. We are evolving into a multi-disciplinary, multi-specialty, orthopedic musculoskeletal center. We are committed to continuing to develop and grow in the future. Danville Regional provides us with state of the art facilities and equipment that allows us to treat most orthopedic injuries.”

To take better care of your joints, maintaining good general health and an active lifestyle is wise. One factor leading to the need for joint replacements and affecting the outcome of joint replacement surgeries is obesity. Obesity is a growing problem in America and locally is an especially critical community health problem. Dr. Hermann, who is a recent member of the board of directors of the Danville Regional Foundation says that “addressing obesity is one of the initiatives of the foundation and other groups in town who are trying to influence this trend in a positive direction. Obesity contributes negatively to many health conditions such as sleep apnea, diabetes, and heart disease, in addition to its impact on orthopedic diseases.”

Dr. Hermann is passionate about living an active lifestyle. “A healthy lifestyle has many benefits beyond staying fit. It leads to higher levels of endorphins so you feel more upbeat and positive. You sleep better. You have more energy. You don’t have to be excessive or obsessive in your exercise routine. You simply need to incorporate a reasonable amount of activity into your lifestyle.”

Dr. Mark Hermann is an orthopedic surgeon and cycling enthusiasts who can often be found in the operating room at Danville Regional Medical Center. He has been with Danville Orthopedic Clinic since 1990. He is a member of the Arthroscopy Association of North America and a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. He is a Diplomat of the Board of Orthopedic Surgery, a Member of the Wilderness Medical Society, and a Certified Physician Clinical Research Investigator. Dr. Hermann and his family enjoy many outdoor pursuits and active vacations together.

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