Local News

Baby Boomers Find Bodies Are Not As Young As They Used To Be

Posted June 15, 2006

— Baby boomers have always found time to live hard and play hard. Now, many of them are paying the price in chronic joint pain.

Frank Terhaar-Yonkers loves exercise. He prefers indoor soccer, mountain biking and volleyball.

"I really enjoyed that until I tore my ACL doing it," he said.

Terhaar-Yonkers had knee reconstruction surgery, but then he kept playing his favorite sports.

"Playing with my kids, I dislocated my knee again," he said.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lyman Smith has many patients like Terhaar-Yonkers, suffering Boomeritis.

"They're not satisfied with simply sitting around and gaining weight," Smith said.

"It's like people hitting their 50s and trying to stay reasonably active and having a tough time doing it," Terhaar-Yonkers said.

Smith said the problem is the sports they love take a toll on the joints. The trauma to Terhaar-Yonkers' knee led to painful arthritis from damaged knee cartilage. Unlike other cells, electrical signals stimulate cartilage cell growth, so Terhaar-Yonkers wears a stimulator inside a knee brace.

Terhaar-Yonkers said he can control the signal strength on the stimulator. The therapy is still experimental, but after 500 hours of wearing it, he can run without pain.

"It does work. It does relieve pain," Smith said.

Smith recommends switching to sports that are easier on the knees like swimming or biking. Smith also recommends strength training for the leg joints to help prevent injuries. He said running may be good aerobic activity, but it does not strengthen the knee joint.

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