All posts by Dr. Stickney

The Do’s and Don’ts of Supplements and Surgery

stickneysupplementsIf you’re preparing for surgery, you want your body in the best condition for your operation. It’s natural to feel like you need to take every precaution – after all, the success of a procedure depends heavily on preparation and your state of health.

Even though it’s done strategically, your tissue undergoes trauma during surgery. Bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, and skin endure stress and may experience injury associated with surgery. To avoid complications during the operation and help your body heal, it’s useful to prepare by taking specific supplements and stopping others. Read on to learn what supplements could be beneficial and those that may be worth avoiding:

What Supplements Can You Take to Promote Recovery After Surgery?
Rather than loading up on supplements, the goal is to correct any deficiencies by consuming essential minerals. Consider taking these to keep your body working optimally:

  • Vitamins D, A, and Calcium: Each aid in bone growth and collagen strength.
  • Magnesium: This often deficient mineral ensures proper circulation and heart rate among other benefits.
  • Vitamin C: Supports the immune system as an antioxidant and rebuilds collagen.
  • Zinc: Helps heal wounds and keeps the immune system strong.
  • Probiotics: Replenishes good bacteria and may stave off infection.
  • Ginger: May help keep nausea at bay after surgery.

What Supplements Should You Avoid Before Surgery?
Successful surgery and recovery largely depend on effective blood clotting and rebuilding of collagen, a crucial component of healthy tissue. Platelet aggregation is part of the process that leads to blood coagulation and the release of growth factors needed to start healing. To ensure that these developments occur, it’s best to avoid supplements with platelet inhibiting effects, prior to surgery, like blood-thinners or herbal additives. Some common blood-thinners to watch for are:

  • Gingko Biloba: May lead to excessive bleeding or prevent platelet aggregation.
  • Garlic: Often inhibits platelet aggregation and prevents blood clotting.
  • Ginseng: Can lower blood sugar or increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Ephedra: Might accelerate heart and blood pressure.
  • Vitamin E and Fish Oil: These are slightly more complex. Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E both have been known to act as blood-thinners, but also have shown reductions in inflammation after surgery. In general, the helpful affects here outweigh the potential for blood loss. Consult with an orthopedic surgeon to find out what’s right for you.

After surgery and initial blood loss has ceased, we actually may seek to inhibit blood clot formation to decrease the risk of deep vein thrombosis (otherwise known as a blood clot) that most often occurs in the legs. This type of blood clot is a well-known risk associated with large surgeries and a period of decreased activity. To prevent these clots from forming you may be instructed to take a variety of blood thinners for 2-6 weeks after surgery. The options include:

  • Warfarin: When combined with vitamin K, this blood thinner can inhibit protein synthesis of a factor associated with forming clots. Vitamin K is found primarily in dark green vegetables. If you are placed on Warfarin you will be asked to avoid these vegetables while taking it.
  • Aspirin: While this drug should be avoided prior to surgery, it’s often used after surgery to help prevent blood clots. Aspirin inhibits platelets from coming together and forming a clot.

Another concern is supplements that interact with important drugs administered during surgery. Stay away from calming agents and sedatives, supplements that speed up the body’s breakdown of drugs, or those that elevate the heart rate and blood pressure. A few common types to avoid are:

  • Kava: May prolong effects from sedatives, painkillers, or anesthetics.
  • Milk Thistle: Could weaken the effect of drugs administered during surgery by marginally increasing drug metabolism.
  • Licorice: Can increase blood pressure or cause other nutrient deficiencies.

The type of surgery largely dictates what supplements may or may not be problematic. To confirm that you are taking the correct steps in preparation for surgery, consult with Dr. Stickney,Kirkland orthopedic surgeon who specializes in joint replacement surgery, sports medicine, and more.

Testimonial from Carol

I would highly recommend Dr. Jeff Stickney. His skills as a surgeon are superb. He listens carefully to you as a patient. The preparation for the total knee replacement surgery is extremely thorough, with detailed explanations, and instructions for steps to take both pre- and post-surgery to prevent infection, and proactive steps to ameliorate pain. I received a list to take to a physical therapist to learn ahead of time how to properly use a cane and a walker, how to navigate steps, etc. She said she had never seen anything so thorough from an orthopedic surgeon.

The Potential and Pitfalls of Stem Cell Injections

stemcallcautionWhen it comes to stem cell therapy, it’s wise to be a bit wary. While stem cells can have enormous implications for treatment of injury and disease, many facilities offering stem cell injections are simply looking to capitalize on the buzz surrounding this therapy. If you’re considering stem cell injections, it’s essential that you learn everything you can about stem cell practices so you can identify the healing potential and possible scams.

This type of therapy involves repurposing self-renewing stem cells found naturally in your body by injecting them into damaged tissue. When you experience an injury, the body’s healing reaction sends undeveloped cells through the bloodstream to the injured area. When they arrive, they develop into repair cells as a response to their surroundings. The goal of stem cell injections is to expedite treatment of injury or disease by harnessing this natural capacity your body has for healing itself.

The procedure begins with stem cell harvesting, where a doctor extracts cells from points within the body, like fat or bone marrow. Alternatively, cells from a donor like blood from an umbilical cord, could be used, but they must be treated first to prevent negative reactions in the patient. The doctor then proceeds to inject this collection of cells, including rare stem cells, to the site of injury. In theory, this enhances the rate at which the body can heal after injury.

With further research and more advances in the field, stem cells will eventually be extracted from your body and separated in a lab to identify cells with specific capacity. For example, when healing an arthritic joint, stem cells for joint cartilage healing will be cultured to increase their numbers, then injected back into your joint in a quantity sufficient to repair it. While this is the ultimate goal, years of clinical research and trials are required first. In fact, the FDA does not currently allow cell removal from your body, processing them in any significant way, and then putting them back into your body, unless the practice is conducted as part of an approved clinical trial.

Many stem cell therapy offerings charge anywhere between $5000 to $10000 to simply take cells from your bone marrow or fat, spin them in a centrifuge to concentrate the cells, and inject them back into the area of injury. This process makes no attempt to identify the number or quality of stem cells harvested. There are no controlled studies proving this process is effective thus far.

As with any treatment, each patient reacts differently. The current literature surrounding stem cell injections states that the treatment is limited by the quantity and quality of stem cells initially harvested. Patients carry varying levels of stem cells, which may result in ineffective transfusions. Another limitation is physical blockages, such as blocked arteries, that inhibit the body’s ability to transport cells throughout the injured area.

Even when the outcome of stem cell therapy is recovery, establishing a cause-and-effect relationship is difficult because of multiple distinct processes taking place during treatment, and the high potential for placebo effects and natural healing. Some patients improve drastically while others show no substantial alterations.

The efficacy of stem cell injections is a point of contention amongst medical professionals, and because we are still in the experimental stage there’s still a lot we don’t know. FDA regulations for stem cell therapy are subject to change. Be cautious of stem cell treatments offered without regulatory approval or that have not been tested in a registered clinical trial.

When it comes to proven treatments, Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in exercise and healthjoint replacement surgerysports medicine and more. Contact Dr. Stickney and return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle!

Game Changers: Preventing Common Sports Injuries

soccerSummer 2018 has arrived and World Cup fever is in the air. While we certainly see our share of flops in these matches, many players endure legitimate injuries too. Those same injuries will be happening to people everywhere this summer as we spend more time being active outside. Reviewing these common sports injuries, their symptoms, and prevention tactics will ensure you know how to stay safe and keep the ball rolling.

Stay on Your Feet
Soccer players possess the remarkable ability to run nearly nonstop for 90 minutes. However, their effort often comes at a price, especially when warm weather factors in. Groin pulls, thigh strains, and calf cramps are among the most prevalent injuries we see, and they often result from overuse and dehydration. Make sure to stay drink plenty of water, wear the correct equipment, and listen to your body while exercising, especially in the heat.

Bend It
Bending your muscles, ligaments, and joints by stretching regularly will help you “bend it” like the pros. Injuries such as shin splints, ACL tears, and Achilles tendinitis aggravate when athletes don’t stretch or rush back into action too soon. Condition yourself by starting at a low-intensity level and gradually increasing to allow your body to adjust rather than straining its limits. Care for these injuries with rest, ice, and elevation – or call an orthopedic doctor for further evaluation if pain persists.

Tear Up the Turf, Not Your Knees
Soccer, like other summer activities, requires sharp cutting, quick stops, and pivoting. These sudden movements lead to some of the most notable injuries we see in World Cup matches and during summer– ACL tears and ankle sprains. They can occur without contact and may require surgery depending on severity. Take precaution by strength training, wearing the correct footwear, and practicing the proper technique for whatever exercise you choose.

Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in exercise and healthshoulder replacement surgerysports medicine and more. Contact Dr. Stickney and return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle!