Empathetic listener. Hip surgeon. Orthopedist.
“Movement is life,” says Dr. Carlos Williams.
It’s a philosophy he lives by both professionally and personally. On the weekends he stays busy camping, running, practicing yoga, and tackling do-it-yourself home projects. During the week the Vancouver Clinic orthopedist helps patients move better.
“Running a race, taking grandkids to the park, or comfortably doing daily tasks like grocery shopping and cleaning come down to being able to move well and without pain,” he says. “It’s much easier to enjoy life and do the things you love when you aren’t hurting.”
As a provider, Dr. Williams’s purpose is to help patients return to being active and feeling good—whatever that looks like for them.
Finding successful treatments
Each provider in the Orthopedics Department focuses on specific areas in the body. For Dr. Williams it’s knees and hips. He loves the medical complexity involved with caring for the largest joint in the body and finding the right treatment for each unique patient.
It’s not unusual for patients to come to him after being in pain for several years, he says. Many of them have already tried injections and other therapies. They’re often emotionally fatigued by the constant discomfort and limitations. In these cases, relief often comes in the form of a knee or hip replacement.
Joint replacements today are very safe and have a high success rate, with greater than 90 percent of patients seeing an improvement, he says.
“Within a few days to weeks of surgery they’re sleeping better,” Dr. Williams explains. “They’re not limping around in pain. Their spouses and families are so appreciative that their loved one isn’t suffering anymore.”
New options for hip, knee surgeries
In fact, joint replacement surgeries have such positive results that Vancouver Clinic is now offering hip, knee, and ankle replacements in the Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) to select patients. Instead of spending one or several days in the hospital, individuals get to go home the same day to recover in their own beds.
Similar to the hospital, the ASC is equipped with a MAKO™ robot, which allows Dr. Williams to operate with exceptional precision, placing joints within 1 millimeter of their exact target on the body.
“It’s really cutting-edge technology,” he says. “It’s the same thing I’d want on my body.”
All surgery patients are screened to determine the best place for their operation. Individuals who are suited to an outpatient surgery tend to be younger and healthier, with a strong support system to help them at home. The age of people getting a joint replacement is trending down.
“I help tons of people in their 50s,” Dr. Williams says. “People are more active today. They have more demands on their joints and expect to stay active longer.”
However, Dr. Williams is quick to emphasize that age is only one factor and that an 80-year-old could be healthier than a 60-year-old.
Benefits of outpatient surgery
In addition to getting to recover in the comfort of home, Total Joint Program patients enjoy several other perks. All appointments and consultations occur through the clinic, providing a cohesive experience.
Each patient and their support person attend a pre-habilitation appointment with a physical therapist to learn exercises that strengthen muscles before surgery. The patient also learns how to use any assistive devices that they will need after surgery and how to safely transfer themselves between the car, bed, and bathroom with minimal support.
During the actual surgery, a different anesthesia is used that allows the patient to wake up faster and with less grogginess. A physical therapist comes to the patient’s bedside to confirm their mobility and make sure it’s safe for them to go home.
“Outpatient joint replacement is really becoming the standard,” Dr. Williams says. “It’s part of offering the best quality care.”
Helping people move better
Dr. Williams suggests that patients who are suffering from joint pain or mobility issues talk to their doctor. When pain starts making people second-guess whether they can do an activity, or when it interrupts daily life, it’s time to consider whether or not a joint replacement is a good solution for them.
Some patients who have had a previous operation may need to look at revision surgery. One of Dr. Williams’s specialties is complex knee and hip revisions due to age, infection, fractures, or technical problems with previous surgeries.
In all cases, Dr. Williams believes it’s important for patients to understand what medicine has to offer so they can make the right choice for their personal wellbeing. Getting a joint replacement is an important decision and not one that should be made lightly, but it can make a phenomenal difference.
“It’s humbling how appreciative people are,” Dr. Williams says. “The ability to take away someone’s pain and give them their movement and quality of life back makes all the years of schooling and residency worth it.”