Not so long ago, Jeanne’s life included downhill and cross-country skiing 5 days a week in the winter and playing tennis 5 days a week in the summer. That’s in addition to gardening and bike riding through the hills near her scenic Pennsylvania home.
However, osteoarthritis in her left knee began to wear away her active lifestyle. She lived at a scenic ski resort in the Pennsylvania hills, but couldn’t enjoy the lifestyle she’d come to love. The woman who once had been so active now found it hard to simply walk or go to the store.
As time went on, her condition got worse. After time, she could not get out of a chair or do laundry or housecleaning. She had to have someone at her house at all times, and she hated her loss of independence. If she were to stand up and take a couple of steps, her knee would buckle. “I was giving up my entire life,” Jeanne says. She was also leading a sedentary lifestyle, and she gained weight. But she was only 61, and she decided she was far too young to feel so old.
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Finally, Jeanne decided to take action. X-rays of her diseased left knee indicated that her cartilage had worn away, and there was nothing to cushion her bone-on-bone friction when she moved her knee. She and her doctor decided the time had come to discuss a total knee replacement.
Her doctor explained the benefits—the potential for a return to an active lifestyle, with less pain and greater mobility. Her surgeon also cautioned Jeanne that the procedure is a major one.
Weighing all the risks and benefits, Jeanne and her surgeon decided to proceed with the surgery, which removes the diseased joint and replaces it with an artificial implant. Because of her active lifestyle, her surgeon chose a special implant called a Rotating Platform knee. This advanced technology was designed to both bend and rotate. Other knee replacements can’t move the same way. The design is meant to accommodate more normal movement and reduce implant wear.
After Jeanne’s surgery in February 2004, she went to a rehab hospital for a week since she lives in a remote area where in-home physical therapy isn’t available. After she was discharged, she traveled back and forth to rehab three times a week. Jeanne said that recovery took a lot of work and that there was some discomfort immediately after surgery. “My advice is to do the physical therapy and exercises as you’re told. You get out of it what you put into it.”
Before and after surgery, Jeanne’s husband, Dave, was very supportive. “It means so much to have a loved one to help you while you’re getting back on your feet,” said Jeanne.
Today, Jeanne happily reports, “My life is back. I can do many of the things that I did before the arthritis set in and can do them just as well as I did them before.” For example, she competed in a Senior Olympics Doubles Tennis Team and won the Gold Medal! She also enjoys cross-country skiing again—a low-impact aerobic form of exercise.
Jeanne also joked about one of the side benefits of her rehab: “Because of all the practice he got during my rehabilitation, my husband, Dave, is now able to clean the house and do the shopping and cleaning as well as I can. Sorry ladies – he’s taken.”
Exercise, she says, is a big reason why she’s seen such success. “I can do all of the things I did before because I did not skip my exercises. I was very serious about my rehab and took charge of my recovery.” During the tough times, she motivated herself to stick with it, by keeping her tennis racquet and cross-country skis layed out as a reminder of her goal of returning to the fun things she used to enjoy.
She said Dave and her family and friends “are very happy that I am feeling better. One said I was an inspiration,” she says a bit bashfully. “I am sorry that I waited so long to have the surgery.”
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IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
As with any medical treatment, individual results may vary. Only an orthopaedic surgeon can determine whether an orthopaedic implant is an appropriate course of treatment. There are potential risks, and recovery takes time. The performance of the new joint depends on weight, activity level, age, and other factors.
Last Updated: 06/11/2009