Healthy Tahoe: Overcome joint pain for improved quality of life |

Healthy Tahoe: Overcome joint pain for improved quality of life

Jeff Orr, MD, and Kyle Swanson, MD, FAAOS

In an active lifestyle, joint health is a top priority. Your joints—hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, wrists—allow you to perform sports and daily activities and are needed to move and thrive. Over time, an active lifestyle may lead to wear and tear—the eventual breakdown of protective cartilage—causing friction in the joints. This friction ultimately results in joint pain and injury. 

Jeffrey Orr
Kyle Swanson

Living with pain is a life changing condition, as it’s often paired with restrictions in mobility and daily activities, dependence on pain medication, anxiety and depression, and poor perceived health or reduced quality of life.

Though joint pain presents in many different forms, so do the treatments and prevention strategies. Depending on the cause of the pain, people may find relief from exercises to strengthen particular muscle groups; injections of anti-inflammatory steroids or other medications; platelet-rich plasma, where a patient’s own platelets (a type of blood cell) are injected into an injured tendon or cartilage; nerve ablation, where precisely controlled heat is used to temporarily disable nerves causing the pain; and arthroscopy, a surgical procedure used to view, diagnose, and treat problems inside a joint.

When lifestyle modifications and minimally invasive procedures aren’t effective against joint pain, joint replacement surgery is another option. Joint replacement is a procedure in which some (partial replacement) or all (total replacement) damaged parts of a joint are removed and replaced with man-made parts. The goal is to restore function and reduce pain and inflammation. This surgery can be performed on the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and ankle, with the most frequently performed joint replacement surgeries on the hips and knees.

Joint replacement surgery has improved and evolved over time. Innovations in robotic technology now enable orthopedic surgeons to have improved precision that reduces trauma on the bone and tissue during surgery, resulting in more accurate results and a better experience for patients. 

Barton Memorial Hospital is one of the first hospitals in the Lake Tahoe and Carson City areas to offer Mako SmartRobotics™, a robotic system used in total knee, total hip, and partial knee joint replacements. With use of this technology, surgeons are able to create intricate 3D maps of a patient’s joint during the planning phase that they can follow in the operating room. The map supports increased precision and accuracy for a less invasive surgery, resulting in faster recovery times and less pain during recovery.

If you are living with joint pain, discuss treatment options with your orthopedic provider. There is a pathway to relief so you can get back to thriving in your daily life.

Dr. Jeff Orr and Dr. Kyle Swanson are board-certified orthopedic surgeons with Tahoe Orthopedics & Sports Medicine and certified operators of Mako SmartRobotic. Drs. Orr and Swanson will host a free Wellness Webinar, “Joint Pain & Replacement” at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 14. Register in advance, or view previously recorded webinars at For more information on joint replacement, visit

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