Have knee will travel
Joint replacement keeps knee, globetrotting grandma on the go
Ara Ann Duty is always on the go, never letting anything slow her down. So the 70-year-old Wichita grandmother of 11 continued to shop and travel despite the increasing pain in her knee when going up and down stairs or keeping up with her grandchildren.
“I just chalked it up to old age,” says Ara Ann.
But after finding it difficult to get on and off the bus while on a trip to Albuquerque, N.M., she decided it was time to consult with her family physician.
The X-rays of her right knee revealed osteoarthritis, a condition that deteriorates the protective cartilage on the surface of joints.
“Once the protective cartilage is too thin to protect the joint, symptoms begin such as joint pain or stiffness, limited movement and altered walking patterns,” says John R. Schurman II, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Advanced Orthopaedic Associates PA.
After confirming that Ara Ann had done all she could to treat her symptoms without surgery, Dr. Schurman recommended a total knee replacement, which he then scheduled for Feb. 19 at Via Christi Hospital St. Francis.
“With this kind of surgery we remove the arthritic surface and replace it with a metal and plastic implant, fixing the alignment and restoring the mechanical function of the knee,” says Dr. Schurman.
Prior to surgery, Dr. Schurman recommended that Ara Ann participate in a one-hour joint replacement preparation class offered at Via Christi’s hospitals in Wichita on St. Francis and St. Teresa. That way, he says, she would have realistic expectations about her recovery and would know what her role in her recovery would be.
“The class gave me some really good insight on the surgery itself, but also on what needed to happen before, during and after,” says Ara Ann.
The class also helps alleviate anxieties about the unknown, says Dr. Schurman, adding that considerable improvements have been made in the process in the past several years, especially helping patients manage their pain.
“Today, patients typically can stand up and walk to the bathroom the day of surgery,”
“They also start working with the physical therapist the following day and are ready to leave the hospital by the second or third day.”
Physical therapy and doing the exercises are key factors in the recovery process.
“I can reconstruct the mechanical part of the knee,” says Dr. Schurman, “but it’s the patient who has to make it work again by putting it to use.”
During Ara Ann’s brief hospital stay, her physical therapist showed her the exercises she needed to do to strengthen her new knee. Within two weeks, she was getting around without having to use a walker.
“I had extra motivation,” she says. “I was scheduled to take a three-week trip to Alaska in May and I did not want to miss it.”
Q&A with Dr. Schurman
Will my new knee feel like my old one?
Mechanically, it will function like a natural knee, however, patients say that it doesn’t feel quite the same. Nonetheless,
patients are still very satisfied because they are in a lot less pain.
Will my knee be completely detached in surgery?
No. While we do have to remove the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, in order to resurface the ends of the tibia and the femur that the device substitutes for, the muscles and other ligaments stay attached
How long will my new knee last?
Provided that it is correctly aligned by your surgeon and that you follow through with the recommended care and avoid
high-impact activities such as
running and jumping, it could
last 25 years or more.
Did you know?
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas has designated Via Christi Hospital St. Francis as a Blue Distinction Center+ for
Knee and Hip Replacement.
Via Christi’s Wichita hospitals house a nationally recognized orthopedic residency program and Orthopaedic Research Institute, where engineers and physicians have invented orthopedic devices that have helped advance orthopedic practices worldwide.