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Meet Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Andrew Ciarlone

Andrew Ciarlone

A native Michigander, Dr. Ciarlone said his interest in medicine began when he first noticed that the human body doesn’t always perform the way it should. Early on, he became interested in people with limps, joint pain, or other injuries that prevented them from enjoying their normal lifestyles. After having the opportunity to view an ACL reconstruction surgery during medical school, he was certain that orthopedic surgery was his calling.

 

The Full Spectrum of Patients and Procedures

Orthopaedic surgeons work with the musculoskeletal system, ranging from your toes up to your neck and everything in between. “I see a full spectrum of patients, from teenagers through octogenarians,” said Dr. Ciarlone. “That includes the weekend warrior, serious athletes, and people who are beginning to struggle with age-related joint pains.”

While they can be best known for their innovative surgical procedures, physicians like Dr. Ciarlone spend over half their time in the office with patients, not in the operating room. “The office is where I am able to work through the diagnosis and where I can build those relationships with patients,” said Dr. Ciarlone.  With a conservative approach to treatment, and so many non-invasive procedural options available, Dr. Ciarlone advised that over half of his patients never need to go farther than an office visit.  While he understands that patients can be hesitant to follow up on an injury if they are fearful of surgery, he recommends seeking medical help for injuries rather than putting off that office visit.  ”About 50% of my patients can be treated with a non-surgical procedure or treatment plan, especially if their injury is treated right away.”  And those injuries that aren’t likely to be treatable without surgery, such as a meniscus tear, may require a much more considerable procedure if ignored.

 

A Conservative Approach to Care

While half of his time is spent in the operating room, Dr. Ciarlone said the opportunities he has to fix a problem and bring people back to the lifestyles they enjoyed before their injury keeps him passionate about his work. However, he is adamant that surgery is not the right solution for everyone, nor is it often the first treatment recommended.  “I am not passionate about performing surgery on people who don’t need it,” said Dr. Ciarlone. “It’s not a one-sided decision. It’s very much a team approach to care and a team decision when surgery is the appropriate treatment.”

Even when surgery is recommended, it might be less invasive than you’d imagine. Dr. Ciarlone is one of the just 5-10% of orthopedic surgeons who perform anterior hip replacement, a “muscle sparing” procedure. This minimally-invasive approach uses small incisions and does not disrupt muscles, minimizing pain and resulting in a faster recovery time for patients.

How much faster? Dr. Ciarlone explained that many of his patients are up and doing physical therapy the very next day, while others are mobile so quickly that they are able to go home the same day as surgery. “These sort of recovery times, even five years ago, were unheard of.”

 

Faster Recovery Times with Crittenton Hospital

Over the past several years, Dr. Ciarlone has been working with Crittenton on a rapid recovery protocol for his anterior hip replacement, which may soon become a completely outpatient surgery.  “The facility and the staff here at Crittenton are exceptional,” he said. “I am confident that my patients will have a good experience when they are at Crittenton Hospital. The technology, environment and medical staff all add up to ensure patients have great service.”

Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Joints

Dr. Ciarlone offered several preventative tips for community members, all centered on living a healthy and active lifestyle. Staying active, especially as people approach retirement age, is one of the best preventative tips for orthopaedic care. This includes a daily activity that gets your heart rate up and muscles moving. “Weight bearing activities and activities that keep muscles strong and joints moving are important,” he said. “Things get worse when you are sedentary.”

To learn more about Dr. Ciarlone and his practice, visit his profile page.