Reaping Rewards of a New Joint
Things went from bad to worse for Arnetta Philson, who used to love to go for walks and bike rides. "My knee got so bad that I could hardly do anything," says Philson, 57. "One minute I would be walking, and the next minute my knee would buckle and I'd be on the ground."
Philson, who had been diagnosed with degenerative joint disease, had a torn meniscus in her knee. "A meniscus tear is a common injury that damages the rubbery cushion of the knee joint," says Phillip H. Omohundro, MD, orthopedic surgeon, Holy Cross Hospital. "Tears can happen when the knee twists or when tissue degenerates from the normal wear and tear of aging."
The main symptom of a meniscus tear is pain from swelling and damage to surrounding tissues. "My knee hurt a lot and was very swollen," Philson says. "It was basically bone rubbing on bone. And it got to the point where I couldn't do anything, and if I tried, I fell down."
Because of the severity of the damage to Philson's knee and because of a previous knee surgery, Dr. Omohundro recommended replacing the entire knee.
"This surgery replaces virtually every component of the knee joint with metal and plastic pieces," he says. Joint replacement surgery may be a treatment option for anyone with severe pain due to arthritis, injuries or other joint problems. "What type of surgery is best depends on the joint that is affected and the cause of the problem," Dr. Omohundro says.
Providing Expert Care
The Joint Center at Holy Cross Hospital features a specially trained, multidisciplinary staff of physicians, nurses and therapists. In 2007 our orthopedic surgeons performed more than 2,500 procedures, including 600 joint replacement surgeries.
The center houses a patient education center, an onsite rehabilitation room, a common dining area and 14 private patient rooms. Patients at the Joint Center are part of an intensive program built upon a series of milestones and achievement dates specific to each patient.
"My care was excellent, and the nurses were really great," Philson says.
Putting Patients in Control
The day after her surgery, Philson was up and moving around. "Since it was May, I spent a lot of time outside in the hospital's healing garden," she says.
From day one, patients are encouraged to facilitate their own healing by walking and moving about. In fact, patients are required to select a family member or friend who will act as a personal coach. The coaching system helps to ensure that patients are doing their exercises regularly, both in the hospital and at home.
After several months of recovery from total knee replacement surgery, most people find it's easier and less painful to move around than it was before the surgery. For Philson, her severe pain is gone and she can go up and down the stairs on her own.
"I feel much better," she says. "I'm using the elliptical machine and stationary bike. I ride for 40 minutes to build muscle, but I want to work up to an hour."