The spirit of “Staying Fit After 40” is alive and well – as it should be. Many who have hit the Big 40 understand the value of being active, exercising and working to stay in shape. That said, once we near or hit the fourth decade, changes start happening to our bones, joints, tendons and muscles. We begin losing bone mass faster than we can rebuild it. Our cartilage, ligaments and tendons start to dry out, becoming brittle and less supple, and our coordination and balance may not be as sharp as it was previously.

“We’re encouraged when we see people with good lifestyle habits, exercising, eating right, maintaining a healthy weight and cutting our smoking and excessive drinking,” says Lawrence Conley, DO, an orthopedic surgeon with Colleton Medical Center.

“Those things count and have a tremendous impact on orthopedic health. The more you foster your own bone and joint health through healthy habits as you age, the more successful we can be with treatments for injuries.”

The orthopedic experts at Colleton Medical Center consider it their calling to keep their patients active regardless of age. Not surprisingly, they see lots of age-related chronic pain, ailments, injuries and other orthopedic issues.


Back pain, especially low back pain, is one of the most common reasons for doctor visits. About 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Causes can range from sitting too much and excess weight, to wear and tear on the spine, congenital conditions or previous surgeries, says Conley. Most back pain is muscle-related and will get better by itself or with self-treatment. If back pain doesn’t subside within a few weeks, it’s time to visit the doctor.

Spine and back care are offered through multiple specialty areas – orthopedics, neurosurgery, sports medicine and pain management – depending on patient need. Our treatments encompass physical therapy, innovative non-surgical pain interventions and the latest surgical procedures.

Shoulder & elbow

Damage to the rotator cuff (muscles, tendons and ligaments holding the joint together) is increasingly common as people age, says Conley. Rotator cuff tears are associated with degenerative changes that occur with aging and can impact both active and non-active adults.

“Keeping shoulders strong and staying fit are the best ways to avoid problems,” says Conley. “This can be achieved through exercises. And while I certainly believe a strong shoulder is a happy shoulder, I caution patients to avoid overdoing it and to stay away from exercises that cause significant shoulder pain.”


Hips are built to take a good bit of wear and tear over the years, but eventually age, repetitive motion and overuse catch up, leaving nearly one in four adults over age 60 with hip pain of some type.

“The prevalence of osteoarthritis (OA) increases with age such that 30 to 50 percent of adults over the age of 65 years suffer from this condition, which can cause inflammation and cartilage breakdown,” says Conley.

“In addition to hip OA, patients of all ages can have other conditions that can cause hip pain. These include femoroacetabular impingement (FAI), labral tears, ligament injuries, and tears of muscles and tendons. Some of these can be treated conservatively or with hip arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgery that can address these conditions.”


Our knees are consistently placed under incredible pressure and tension during sports activities. Additionally, over time, cartilage in the knee joint can wear away and the knee can become stiff and painful.

“There have been tremendous advances in knee care, specifically partial and total knee replacement,” says Conley.

“Patients who undergo knee replacement can expect to be much more active and mobile after surgery, and with our advanced techniques, generally experience a very quick recovery, with many being able to walk the day of or the day after the surgery.”

Make no bones about it

Whether it’s aging’s normal wear and tear on our bodies, acute injury in the adult athlete, or the fall of an elderly loved one, our experienced team orthopedic and rehabilitation specialists are committed to providing advanced care with the best patient outcomes.

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