Staying On Course: Tips for Golfing with Joint Pain

It's Altru - Published on April 4, 2017

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson was preparing to compete in the 2010 U.S. Open when, unexpectedly, his joints started to ache.

When the tests came back, Mickelson learned he had psoriatic arthritis. Genetics, the environment, viruses and the body’s immune system are all factors that might cause psoriatic arthritis. Mickelson has been back on his professional golf game for several years, thanks to early diagnosis and treatment.

Altru Advanced Orthopedics providers, Christopher Howson, DC, Jordan McIntyre, DC, Jeremy Gardner, MD, and Wade Olson, NP, participating in the Special Olympics North Dakota Golf Classic.



Many golfers are playing with pain, such as tendinitis, sore muscles and arthritis. Swinging a golf club requires moving at a very high speed in a short amount of time, increasing the risk of injury. We called on Dr. Jeremy Gardner of Altru Advanced Orthopedics to teach us where golfers are feeling the pain and how you can prevent it.

Golfing affects the entire body. Improper form can affect multiple joints, with special consideration for the lead wrist, elbow, shoulder, lower back, hips and knees. Swing alterations, such as a shorter backswing or proper weight shift, may decrease wear and tear on the body.

Keep in mind: it's important to properly stretch and warm up before and after a round to reduce pain and injury. Stretching and strengthening can help keep you healthy and improve your game.

Here are some other injury prevention tips for different body parts.


(Click to view larger.)


Next Steps
If you've tried these techniques and are still experiencing pain, it might be time to visit Altru Advanced Orthopedics. Altru's experienced orthopedic providers can work with you to understand what's causing your pain, and how to fix it. This might include physical therapy, or it could be time to consider joint replacement.

Altru offers anterior approach hip replacement, which allows for a smaller incision and less damage to muscles, resulting in less pain and faster recovery. With proper recovery time and physical therapy, you can get back to the links sooner.


Golf is a great way to stay active. It’s beneficial for strength, balance, coordination and range of motion. If walking is a possibility, aerobic exercise improves the heart, lungs and muscles and helps with weight control, mood and sleep.


See also:




Dr. Jeremy GardnerDr. Jeremy Gardner is an orthopedic surgeon at Altru Health System. Board certified in orthopedic surgery, he specializes in joint replacement, including direct anterior approach to hip replacement, osteoarthritis, rotator cuff surgery and sports medicine. Outside the office, Dr. Gardner is an active golfer, runner and scuba diver. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and archery. 

No Polyp Left Behind | Randy’s Altru Moment

Altru Moments - Published on March 31, 2017

For the past six years, Randy Schroder of Minto, North Dakota, has been visiting Altru’s Urology Department for regular six-month check-ups. In 2011 he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and had tumors removed, and has been keeping a close eye on it ever since.

During a routine urology appointment in April of 2016, Randy had a different nurse than usual. Susan Bostad, RN, who is usually in procedural services, was filling in that day.

“She was so sincere,” explains Randy. “She asked me, ‘Randy, have you thought about having a colonoscopy done? I really care about the patients I work with.’ I had one years ago because of abdominal pain, but hadn’t considered it recently.”

Because of his history of bladder cancer, Randy’s risk was higher. He was over 50. Perhaps it was time for a routine screening?

Do I Really Need a Colonoscopy?
Randy casually mentioned it to his wife on the drive home, and she set up an appointment. Two weeks later, he was getting a colonoscopy.

“The whole process felt like 10 minutes,” shares Randy. “Mid-way through the procedure, though, I remember my doctor gave the nurse a head nod, and I don’t remember a thing after that.”

Randy’s “10 minutes” was really two hours.

Dr. Howard Hack, a gastroenterologist at Altru Health System, had spotted ribbon-like tissue that was a different kind of polyp—a flat colon polyp.

“Flat colon polyps went unnoticed until 10 years ago,” explains Dr. Hack. “My former colleague at Stanford, Dr. Roy Soteikno, published a landmark article in March of 2008 about them. Flat polyps account for about 10 percent of all colon polyps. They are thought to have at least the same potential for developing into colon cancer as regular polyps, and in fact, some of them probably are more pre-cancerous.”

Dr. Hack continued, “Flat polyps are only visible by observing subtle changes in the lining of the colon. Sometimes, they are covered with a thin mucous-like layer which betrays their location. If you miss it, then you are at risk for colon cancer.”

Peace Out, Polyp
Thanks to Dr. Hack’s trained eye, Randy’s flat polyp was quickly and painlessly removed before it turned into cancer.

“I use the technique called Endoscopic Mucosal Resection,” explains Dr. Hack. “This involves injecting a bubble of saline mixed with a blue dye, which lifts the polyp tissue away from the lining of the colon, allowing me to identify the border. I remove the polyp and secure the site with temporary clips which fall off after a few weeks. This allows the site to heal with low risk of bleeding.”

Colon cancer awareness

Randy is relieved Dr. Hack was skilled in recognizing this type of polyp and promptly removed it. “He said it was about the size of a quarter,” shares Randy. “He sent it off to be tested, and the results were benign. But, I looked it up online and found that if left untreated, it almost always turns to cancer.”

Randy’s future care plan involves an annual colonoscopy, and he regularly visits urology for check-ups.

“I saw nurse Sue again at my bladder check six months after having the flat polyp removed,” says Randy. “She was so happy to hear I had my colonoscopy done. Her encouragement might have saved my life.”

The 6’4” diesel mechanic thanked her and gave her a heartfelt hug.

“I can’t believe the difference she made. If I hit the lottery tomorrow, I’d give Sue a million dollars,” beams Randy. “She definitely prolonged my life.”

Due to advancements in detection and treatment, colorectal cancer death rate has been dropping for more than 20 years. When detected early, it’s treatable. Colonoscopy is the best line of defense in reducing risk. Schedule yours today >>

Colonoscopy: Real Questions, Real Answers from Altru’s Gastroenterology Providers

It's Altru - Published on March 21, 2017

Colonscopy QuestionsFriend: What’d you get for your 50th birthday?

You: I got a colonoscopy!

Probably not the answer your friend was looking for.

While a colonoscopy isn’t as exciting as a new gadget or as fancy as a new piece of jewelry, it’s one of the best presents you can give yourself (and those who love you).

Altru’s Gastroenterology Providers tackle some of the frequently asked questions about colonoscopy.

Do I really need to have a colonoscopy? What are the chances you’ll find something?

» Yes. While screenings for other cancers detect the presence of cancer, colonoscopy screenings can prevent colon cancer. During a colonoscopy, the physician is looking for polyps, small growths that over time can become cancer.

» If a polyp is found, the physician will remove it. In those over 50, polyps are found in approximately 25 percent of males and 15 percent of females, but are usually not cancerous. One in 20 adults will develop colon cancer in their lifetime. If caught early, colon cancer has a 90 percent cure rate.

» Colonoscopy is recommended beginning at age 50 and continuing until 75 years of age. People with an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer should begin screening at a younger age, and may need to be tested more frequently.

Real answers by Anthony Chu, MD.

Will my insurance cover the procedure?

» Most insurance plans and Medicare cover colorectal cancer screening for people who are age 50 or older. Colorectal cancer screening tests may be covered by your health insurance policy without a deductible or co-pay. Consult your insurance provider for your specific coverage.

» Altru’s No-Cost Colonoscopy program offers financial assistance for eligible patients who are uninsured or underinsured. Funding is available from Altru Health Foundation, thanks to Altru’s Gala and grants from the North Dakota Department of Health. For more information, call 701.780.6533.

Real answers by James R. Wood, MD, FACP.

What does the colon prep liquid taste like? Why is it necessary to drink it prior to my colonoscopy?

» Patients have a choice when it comes to colon prep. GoLYTELY® is typically recommended as it has the best coverage from insurance. GoLYTELY® is mildly salty, but patients can mix lemonade or limeade flavor packets in to the liquid to make the flavor more enjoyable. The other two options – Prepopik and Miralax – aren’t covered as well by insurance, resulting in additional out-of-pocket cost to the patient. Prepopik tastes similar to sour orange cream candy. With Miralax, the taste is determined by the Gatorade flavor with which you mix the powder.

» It’s important to drink all of the colon prep to properly clean your colon. This helps to provide your physician with a clear view of your colon.

Real answers by Kamrin Macki, NP.

Who will perform my colonoscopy?


» Our doctors are experienced, board-certified and University-trained gastroenterologists. We follow the national guidelines for performance of the procedures, which assures the highest quality exams. We utilize a state-of-the-art facility with experienced nursing staff. Colonoscopies are performed differently for different issues in different patients, and thus need to be individualized.


» Endoscopic procedures performed by physicians with different training may not be able to provide the same ability to provide the quality of care. For example, identifying and removing large or "flat" polyps requires special training and experience which is available at Altru. Flat polyps were first identified at Stanford University in 2007. These flat polyps are more difficult to identify and appear to pose a higher risk for developing into colon cancers.


Real answers by Howard Hack, MD.

Why is good colonoscopy preparation so important?


» Bowel preparation for colonoscopy refers to the laxatives taken before the procedure to clean the colon of fecal debris. A colonoscope is a long, flexible tube with a television camera on the tip. The camera cannot see through fecal debris. So any fecal debris left in the colon could obscure identification of a polyp or even a small cancer.


» Several studies have shown that fewer small and large polyps are detected in patients with less-than-optimal bowel preparation. And, poor preparation has several potential consequences during the procedure itself. First, your colonoscopy may last longer because the doctor will need to take time to clear out debris. Second, your doctor may lack confidence that the colon lining was seen adequately and may ask you to return for a subsequent screening earlier than would be otherwise recommended (say one year, rather than five or 10 years). This will subject you to increased costs and risk. Finally, if the preparation is very poor, the doctor may have to stop the procedure entirely, and you will need to reschedule.


Real answers by Israr Sheikh, MD


Altru's Gastroenterology Team


To schedule a screening colonoscopy, call 701.780.6533. Learn more at altru.org/colon.

From Admission to Discharge, Your Safety Is Our Priority

It's Altru - Published on March 16, 2017

As we celebrate Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 12-18, 2017), here are some of the many ways we ensure safe care for our patients at Altru Health System.

Patient Safety Week

Addressing concerns. We diligently address every concern brought forth by patients, families and staff. We encourage patients to provide feedback and/or report any and all safety concerns by privately calling a patient representative.

Assessing fall risk daily. We perform a thorough standardized assessment immediately upon hospital admission, followed by daily assessments to determine individual fall risk. Each patient gets a score—low, moderate or high—and actions are taken to ensure patient safety depending on risk level. Actions may include: bed alarm, chair alarm, patient sitter and/or rounder.

Altru’s inpatient fall rate is 3.45 per 1,000 patient days. This is on the low end of the national, publicly reported inpatient range of 3.3-11.5 falls per 1,000 patient days, according to the NDNQI (National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators) database.

Encouraging honest feedback. Altru has a robust reporting culture for any patient safety or quality care issues. Our reporting structure is non-punitive, encouraging open and honest communication about concerns relating to patient care and safety. In addition to reporting falls, we also document any and all near-falls. This is all tracked in real time to accurately reflect reality and consistently hold staff accountable.


 


Analyzing errors. If a fall does occur, action is taken immediately. This includes notifying the charge nurse and hospital supervisor, provider and other caregivers, including the patient’s family. We include the patient in a group huddle to assess and revise interventions. Then, a root cause analysis (RCA) is completed to analyze what went wrong and make sure the issue never happens again.

Using the best technology. Healthcare technology can assist staff by providing simple reminders and prompts to keep our patients safe. Electronic medical records can improve the ability to diagnose diseases and reduce—even prevent—medical errors, thus improving patient outcomes.

Washing hands—often and well. Hand hygiene is a great way to prevent infections. Providers might need to clean their hands as many as 100 times per 12-hour shift, depending on the number of patients and intensity of care. Healthcare providers can explain how and why they clean their hands before, after and sometimes during patient care, and let patients know it's okay to ask about hand hygiene.

Keeping it clean. Our Environmental Services team uses a number of quality checks to ensure patient rooms are as clean as possible. For example, an “encompass room check” marks 18 touchpoints before and after a room is cleaned to check and score overall cleanliness. This attention to detail doesn’t go unnoticed—we ranked at the 84th percentile (goal was 70th) overall for 2016 in HCAHPS scores for cleanliness. Beyond the basics, we take extra measures keep our environment squeaky clean, from using bleach for C-diff cases to adding new UV light machines to kill 99.9% of bacteria.

Although we are using this week to celebrate our patient safety achievements and increase awareness, safe care is Altru’s focus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

See also:

Lynn Huot has been a nurse for 30 plus years with the past 12 years as a Registered Nurse. She obtained her BSN from Mayville State University in 2016 and is currently the Director of Quality and Patient Safety at Altru Health System. Lynn enjoys spending her free time with her family as well as spending time at the family cabin.

Central Sterile: Where Healthcare Really Starts

It's Altru - Published on March 13, 2017

Central Sterile is actually the first step in ensuring you recover from whatever ails you, because those technicians are responsible for properly tracking, cleaning and sterilizing all the instruments and medical supplies that may cross your path.

Because the work of Central Sterile is done behind-the-scenes, patients may never realize the crucial role they play in keeping you healthy and helping you recover. These individuals exist solely to protect the welfare and safety of every patient that comes through the hospital doors.

Central Sterile technicians are the people who organize and assemble the instruments needed for surgical cases, meticulously track every scissor, screw and drape in the facility and maintain adequate amounts of each, as well as disassemble and reassemble contaminated medical supplies and equipment.

It’s not a role to be taken lightly.

Central Sterile technicians are an integral part of the healthcare process, and it’s a great fit for someone interested in medicine who doesn’t want to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical school. In fact, many sterile processing technician programs can be completed in six months to a year, and for much less investment than other medical career paths.

That’s good news, especially considering the job market for Central Sterile processing technicians is expected to grow by 20 percent by 2020. Even though improved technology is making it easier for these technicians to track and order equipment, individuals still maintain a critical function for any hospital or healthcare facility. Thanks to high demand in the market, job security and professional development, opportunities abound as entry-level technicians move up toward supervisor and management levels.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the central sterile role is the ability to develop a rewarding career in the healthcare industry. Though patients are not doling out hugs or handshakes on a regular basis, central sterile technicians can find fulfillment knowing those patients have left healthier. That’s thanks to the vital job technicians have provided by supplying the tools necessary to set them on a path toward recovery.

If you’re interested in filling the important role of a Central Sterile processing technician at Altru Health System, apply at altru.org/careers.

Finding Balance in the Midst of Difficult Times

It's Altru - Published on March 3, 2017

Whenever I hear that someone has aching knees or back trouble, I suggest physical therapy. Because of the wonderful work of therapists for my foot, joints and spine, I actually think I’m athletically ahead of where I was ten or fifteen years ago!

One tool my physical therapist (PT) introduced to me was a Bosu, which is kind of like one half of a big therapy ball. You try to stand on it, then walk in place on it and finally march on it, none of which is easy. All of this is intended to improve balance by improving the “core” of your body.

The Bosu did two things for me. First, it showed me the limits of my balance (my then-pregnant PT could balance better than I could). Second, the Bosu worked on my weaknesses, and I improved on them quickly. I was so impressed that I bought one.

Have we ever needed balance at Altru more than we need it now? And I don’t mean physical balance. Hundreds of people are working in different ways and in different places since the structural failure at the clinic. Just that would knock a person off balance. But add the trauma of the sudden evacuation and the prospect of a two-year road to a new place and the whole system is being challenged. We’ve been knocked off balance.

We are looking for a steadying influence, a way to stay on the path. The idea of balance is really rather practical: we need balance between work and personal, between fun and seriousness, within relationships and with our work. Physical balance comes from strengthening our core, our center, those abdominal and gluteus muscles.  Our mental, spiritual and emotional balance comes as we strengthen the core of our being.

There comes the challenge. We can name the areas of the brain or the ligaments around a knee, but where is our spiritual and emotional center? And, how do we strengthen our spiritual core to deal with stress?

Let’s find our personal center. This is unique for each of us but there are some common places to look.

Beliefs. What we believe in our core drives our behavior and creates our attitudes. An infant or small child “believes” they are the center of the universe. Everyone else is here to serve their needs. That “belief” changes over time.

We might think a belief has to be religious, yet that’s not always the case. I knew a very non-religious man whose central belief was that he was to leave the world better than when he started. He exercised that belief by actively seeking ways to put it into practice and did amazing things. He taught me there’s a difference between saying we believe something and actually believing enough that our actions change.

At Altru, of course, we have a set of core beliefs in the Altru Way and our Behavior Standards. These can help us stay balanced if we actually believe them.

Relationships. Humans are social creatures and relationships are our core. But, we’d have to admit that it is easy to take for granted relationships with family, friends or even God if we have a religious belief.

The Search Institute identified 40 developmental assets for adolescents. Many of them have to do with relationships, such as Asset #4, “Young person experiences caring neighbors” or Asset #8 “Young people are given useful roles in the community.” For children and teens, adults should seek to provide these things. But as adults we should be able to take initiative on our own to find (and be) caring neighbors. We should seek useful roles on our own. Relationships with family and positive work relationships bring us satisfaction, which leads our third general category.

Awareness and Value of Self and Others. Have you even seen yourself on video? I know I’m often surprised how I look (older, you know) or how I sound. We might not always be aware of how we talk or be aware of the people around us.

Self-awareness is part of being human, but it is also a skill we develop. Can we come to actually hear our own words and see how they might be taken positively or negatively?  Can we recognize what we think of ourselves and our relative worth? Can we also be aware of others in similar ways? We cannot know what someone else is thinking, but we can learn to be aware of the words being said and expressions shown.

A strong core brings balance, even during difficult times. At Altru we need balance more than ever. This will require a continual strengthening of our core as individuals and as a system.

Mark-EllingsonMark Ellingson, Altru’s Pastoral Care Manager, has lived in the area for 35 years as a local pastor and chaplain. He is married to Betty, a speech pathologist supervising in schools such as Hillsboro and Central Valley. They have five children and a couple of grandsons. Mark and Betty enjoy living in Grand Forks. Mark plays tennis, fills in at local churches for vacationing pastors and enjoys writing on his personal blog, Thoughts of a Hospice Chaplain.

It’s Not Just Blood Work: Phlebotomists Fill a Crucial Role

It's Altru - Published on February 16, 2017

Phlebotomist-career-healthcareYou’ve encountered them. They’re the people who draw your blood for tests and make it possible for you to donate during potentially live-saving circumstances.

To each other, they may joke about being “blood suckers” or “vampires,” but to others they’re phlebotomists, and their role goes beyond just sticking a needle in your arm.

To be a phlebotomist requires detailed knowledge and care for people. It’s knowing the right type of tube to use, the perfect vein placement, the correct way to draw blood and the right time to clot. They are the calming voice that explains the draw and the reassuring smile to an apprehensive patient. They are calm, kind and cheerful.

But their job doesn’t stop after the draw.

Phlebotomists must do several more steps before the lab can assess the results of the blood drawn. Timeliness is key. Phlebotomists rush samples to the lab so physicians can get results as quickly as possible.

The job requires precision and attention to detail. Phlebotomists must be extremely accurate and careful as they scope out a patient’s vein—some may be hard to find, while others may be easy targets.

If taken lightly, errors can occur, leading to contamination, inaccurate labeling and haemolysis—the destruction of red blood cells. If compromised, an accurate diagnosis is almost impossible.

Lab-blood-work-career-healthcareThough the act of drawing blood has been practiced for centuries, most people don’t understand how crucial it is in establishing a patient’s medical condition. And not just that. Phlebotomy can prevent a serious illness from progressing further. The ability to obtain a blood sample can literally save a life.

It’s an important job that often gets overlooked. Phlebotomists play a major role in medical diagnosis, preventive healthcare and the treatment of diseases.

Phlebotomist employment is projected to grow 25 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. Applicants only need a high school diploma or GED; on-the-job training is provided.

To fill a crucial role as a phlebotomist at Altru Health System, apply at altru.org/careers.

10 Things to Know about Janice Hamscher, Altru’s Incoming Chief Nursing Officer

Faces of Altru - Published on January 27, 2017

Janice-Hamscher-CNO

Janice Hamscher, MSN, MBA, BSN, RN, is caring, compassionate and smart (did you see all those letters after her name?), and we are proud to introduce her as the incoming Chief Nursing Officer at Altru Health System.

Prior to joining Altru, Janice was the Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Penn Highlands DuBois of DuBois, Pennsylvania, since 2012. She also served as Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Saint Vincent Health System in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Beyond being a nurse, she’s proud to call herself a wife and a mom. Here are 10 things to know about Janice.

1. Janice’s first job at age 15 was as a waitress. It taught her many skills for her future in nursing, including organizing, prioritizing and giving people the best customer service possible.

2. Her favorite life quote is, “Never, ever give up.”

Hamscher-family3. When not at work, Janice can likely be found reading, cooking, gardening, going for a walk or playing the piano (for herself, not an audience).

4. Janice’s two young adult sons are both in the medical field—one as a nurse, the other actively pursuing medical school. She’s proud to watch them follow in her footsteps.

5. Janice and her husband, Bruce, have had many, many family pets throughout the years, and they currently have three cats.
6. Chocolate is Janice’s all-time favorite food. “If I had to think of one thing I wouldn’t be able to give up, that’s probably what it would be!”

7. If Janice had an extra hour every day to do whatever she wanted, she would spend it reading.

8. She credits her mom as being her main role model in life. “I just always wanted to be like her, and I think I’ve achieved that. My sister tells me I have.”
9. Being a nurse has always been Janice’s dream career. “I’m not sure why exactly—I just wanted to care for people.”

10. Janice is so excited to join the Altru team. “You can just feel the energy and passion here.”


As Chief Nursing Officer, Janice will serve as a member of Altru’s Executive Leadership team. She will be responsible for defining the highest possible nursing standards and ensuring quality patient care is delivered safely and effectively. Janice’s official start date is February 6, 2017.

Take Good Care, Before It Breaks | Lynn's Vascular Screening Story

Altru Moments - Published on December 12, 2016

Lynn in TractorWhen it comes to farm equipment, Lynn Niemann, of Crystal, N.D., has a general rule of thumb: Take good care of it before it breaks, and if it’s already broken, fix it. Lynn took a similar approach to his health this summer.

The oldest brother of five siblings, Lynn suddenly lost his two younger brothers at the ages of 37 and 48, both to vascular-related disease. After the second family loss this spring, and struggling to get his own blood pressure under control, Lynn scheduled an appointment with Altru cardiologist, Dr. Rabeea Aboufakher. Even though it was May, one of the busiest seasons for farmers, he knew this was his top priority.

Lynn and his wife, Annette, met with Dr. Aboufakher for a full examination, where he detected a slight heart murmur. He reassured the Niemanns that the murmur was faint but, because of family history, ordered an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check Lynn’s heart’s electrical activity. Everything checked out fine, and Dr. Aboufakher referred Lynn to Altru’s Dr. Keith Swanson, vascular medicine.

Next, Lynn underwent lab work and a series of painless vascular screenings and ultrasound, focused on the neck and ankles, to check for blood clots throughout his body. While there were no signs of blood clots, Lynn discovered he has a slight vascular disease, as lab results detected a heterozygous gene that would’ve been passed down from one parent.

Tips for Preventing Blood ClotsAs an educator, Lynn’s wife, Annette, was impressed with the time Dr. Swanson spent educating them about the potential risks of blood thinner medication versus living with low-risk vascular disease. “Both doctors were so thorough at explaining the purpose of each test, talking through the risks and promoting prevention with healthy choices,” explains Annette. “They were personable, friendly and understanding of our concerns.”

Prevention for the Future

Because of previous leg swelling, Lynn wasn’t surprised with the diagnosis, and he keeps a positive attitude.

“I wanted to know what was going on,” explains Lynn. “If they did find a problem, I’d rather know and do something about it.”

Dr. Swanson recommended maintaining a healthy lifestyle through weight control, regular activity, eating right and wearing graduated compression garments. Lynn now wears compression stockings every day to prevent swelling and discoloration, and he continues to take his blood pressure medication regularly.

After losing about 20 pounds in the last year, Lynn’s goal is to maintain his weight loss by watching his diet and staying as active as possible. While he used to grab a pop and candy bar for the tractor, he’s now munching on almonds, dried cranberries and unsweetened iced tea during harvest.

Lynn and Granddaughter“Jumping on and off the tractor keeps me moving throughout the day,” he explains. “I try to get out and walk as much as I can.”

Similar to maintaining his farm equipment, Lynn believes in keeping his one and only body as healthy as possible. He continues, “If you can prevent something bad from happening, why not do it? I want to see my grandchildren grow up for as long as I can.”

With the help of Drs. Aboufakher and Swanson, when the small town family farmer celebrated his 60th birthday this fall, he could rest assured his heart and vascular health was in good shape.

Altru's Vascular Medicine specializes in the diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of vascular diseases of the circulatory system. For more information about Altru’s Vascular Medicine, schedule an appointment through MyHealth, or call 701.780.6400.

Living Pain-Free, Not Fun-Free | Ron's Altru Advanced Orthopedics Story

Altru Moments - Published on November 11, 2016

Ron T RakingIn 1999 Ron Thramer had rotator cuff surgery on his right arm. Over the years, the work that had been done had slowly deteriorated, and he was living life in pain.

“I kept putting it off,” explained Ron. “I lived with the pain instead of going in to find a solution. For years, I couldn’t sleep through the night because it was so bad.”

Finally, he saw an advertisement for Altru Advanced Orthopedics showing people living “pain-free, not fun free” and considered it a sign. Living in Roseau, Minnesota, Ron went to Altru Clinic and met with Dr. Jeremy Gardner, an orthopedic surgeon at Altru Advanced Orthopedics who visits regularly.

“Dr. Gardner told me – your shoulder is in really bad shape. Luckily, I know a guy who can fix it.”

Dr. Gardner referred Ron to his colleague, Dr. Darin Leetun, who specializes in shoulder surgery and completes more complex cases. Dr. Leetun reviewed Ron’s case and walked him through the options.

“He asked me what I expected out of the surgery. I said if he could make the constant pain go away and help build back some strength, that I’d be happy,” remembers Ron. “ He told me he could do that, so we moved ahead. I am so happy I did.”

Ron had surgery on his rotator cuff in January of 2016. Dr. Leetun repaired damage and had to include donor tissue to replace the tendons in Ron’s shoulder that were too badly damaged. He referred Ron back to Altru Clinic in Roseau after the surgery so that he could receive physical therapy in his hometown.

Now, nine months after the surgery, Ron is proud to share that, like the advertisement promised, he’s living ‘pain-free, not fun-free.’ “As long as I don’t overdo an activity, there’s no pain,” shared Ron. He’s been able to complete tasks at work with the highway department and at his electric business, Thramer Electric, without having to think about how to avoid pain. And, he’s been able to pick up some of the hobbies he’d left behind when he was living in pain.

Ron T Roofing

“I hadn’t golfed in two years,” he shared. “Dr. Leetun told me to go for it, and though I haven’t had the time to play a round, I swung the club a few times this summer – and there was no pain. Hunting is also much more enjoyable. I can climb into deer stands, I can better support my gun, and most of all I can enjoy it without thinking about the pain.”

Ron’s advice for people who are avoiding addressing their joint pain – don’t. He even referred a co-worker who was much like him to see Dr. Leetun about his shoulder, which had been bothering for years. He’s now on the same path as Ron toward a life without shoulder pain.

“My advice to people is to take care of it now. There’s no good time to have surgery, but the longer you put it off, the worse it gets. And, the more things in life you miss.”

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