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Knee Replacement: Carol's Story

Stopping Knee Pain in its TracksCarol Fogel

Carol Fogel has lots of energy and a positive spirit. "I'm never sedentary," says the Silver Spring resident. "I like running around like a nut." But several years ago, a slip off her deck injured her knee and put a real crimp in her lifestyle.

"For years I simply tolerated the pain and got shots for instant relief," Carol explains. But in November 2009, the pain simply became too much for her to bear. "My knee was screaming at me, and after years of trying different treatment options, my doctor suggested I see a surgeon," the 74-year-old says.

Taking The First Step
Knee surgery, and joint replacement surgery in general, is a common and effective procedure that helps restore function and relieve pain. Yet it can be a significant operation.

Fortunately, orthopedic surgeons at Holy Cross Hospital are pioneering the latest in minimally invasive approaches to joint replacement surgery, which means less pain, a shorter healing process and less scarring.

To further enhance the patient experience, staff members in the hospital's dedicated Joint Center help patients like Carol know what to expect at every step of the way, from pre-surgical planning through recovery. A free two-hour educational class provides practical information, a tour of the Joint Center and even the opportunity to meet some of the people who may be involved in your care.

Moving In The Right Direction
Because the many therapies Carol had tried over the years - including medication, physical therapy and injections - were no longer working, knee replacement surgery was her best bet for a pain-free future.

Yet she was apprehensive about going through a big operation. That is, until she met Zohair S. Alam, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Holy Cross Hospital.

"Dr. Alam has a wonderful manner," Carol says. "He looked me right in the eye, answered all my questions and took away my terror."

"Total knee replacement surgery substitutes metal and plastic pieces for virtually every component of the knee joint," Dr. Alam explains. "To ease recovery, we make the smallest incisions we can and separate tissue instead of cutting it whenever possible."

In addition to surgeons, the Joint Center's highly qualified team includes radiologists, anesthesiologists, specially trained nurses, licensed physical and occupational therapists, pain management specialists, pharmacists, and case managers. They all contribute to better results.

"Physicians at Holy Cross Hospital perform thousands of orthopedic procedures each year, including hundreds of joint replacement surgeries," says Antoni Goral, MD, medical director,
Joint Center.

"The staff is wonderful," Carol recalls. "They did everything they could to make me comfortable. It was especially nice to recover in a private room in the Joint Center. It's so clean and pretty - it looks like a hotel."

Getting Back On Your Feet
After surgery, patients follow a standardized care plan that ensures coordinated nursing care, pain management, and physical and occupational therapy to help accelerate progress.

In addition to addressing physical needs, the staff at Holy Cross Hospital also understands the important role of family and friends in a patient's recovery. To that end, loved ones can visit 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each patient room is equipped with a couch, so visitors can be comfortable. Patients can even order room service meals for themselves and others.

"I had a lot of support from my children and my boyfriend," Carol says. "It was great to have them around while I was getting better."

When it 's time for discharge, case managers work closely with each patient, the surgeon and members of the patient's health care team to make sure the patient has what he or she needs after leaving the hospital.

"Whether patients return home to receive home health care or go to a rehabilitation center, our goal is to start each patient on the path toward a healthy recovery and independence," Dr. Alam says. "After several months, most people find it's easier and less painful to move around than it was before the surgery."

Judging from the life that Carol's leading today, she would surely agree.


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