When Knee Pain Requires a Joint Replacement
Over the years, Steve Clifford lived with a degenerative bone condition that bowed his legs. As it progressed, the pain and the worsening condition started to affect his balance and quality of life.
As a result, Clifford started physical therapy at Avera Medical Group Gettysburg. When he expressed interest in getting a knee replacement, one of his physical therapists highly recommended Mark Hagy, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Avera Orthopedics in Pierre, SD.
Today, he’s pleased with his knee replacement. Clifford can’t recall the last time his right leg was so straight.
“I don’t have pain in my knee or leg like I used to,” said Clifford. “My biggest mistake was putting it off for so long. That’s the advice I’d give to others: don’t put off seeing a doctor for treatment.”
Total Knee Replacement Surgery
After an initial consultation with Hagy, Clifford’s next appointment was surgery — a total knee replacement of the right knee.
“Steve has genu valgum, a condition of severe knock knees,” said Hagy. “We can do these major deformities right here in Pierre with our technology and expertise.”
During the procedure, an incision was made to the front of the knee. The muscles and patella, or kneecap bone, were gently pulled to the side. Hagy then had a visual of the connecting ends of the thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia).
Once the damaged bone material was removed, a prothesis with three parts was fitted and placed. The femoral and tibial components cradle the ends of the thigh bone and tibia bone, respectively. The patella component was attached to the back of the patella and holds the patella on the femoral component.
After surgery, joint replacement patients typically stay in the hospital an extra day or two. In Pierre, the Avera Orthopedics team have developed a care plan that allows nearly all patients to go home the same day.
“We work proactively to set up the patient’s outpatient care, helping them to move ahead in their recovery with confidence,” said Hagy. Outpatient care typically includes physical therapy, the use of assistive devices and follow-up care.
Physical Therapy After Knee Replacement
Soon after surgery, Clifford started physical therapy to strengthen the new joint. At the same time, he and his doctor determined which pain medication would be most effective.
“Each patient is unique, which means their care has to be individualized to their unique needs,” said Hagy. “What works for one patient might not work for another, which is why it’s important to build a strong patient-doctor relationship so we can work together for an ideal outcome.”
Clifford attended physical therapy two to three times a week for about six weeks after his knee replacement. He also saw Hagy for post-surgery checkups at the two-week, six-week and three-month milestones, as well as a one-year checkup at a future date. Hagy confirmed that Clifford’s recovery was progressing very well.
In early 2021, Hagy performed a knee replacement on Clifford’s left knee.
“I felt very fortunate to have an orthopedic surgeon like Dr. Hagy located just an hour away from my home, which is local for those living in a rural setting,” said Clifford. He looks forward to living with less pain.
If you have ongoing pain, schedule an appointment with an Avera expert in orthopedics or podiatry. Your physician will create a plan of care that will be individualized to your particular needs.