Joint Recovery: Two Friends Heal From Knee Replacements
Chip Malinowski and Mike Ruzich met at work 17 years ago and have been friends ever since. Besides working at the same company, the friends live just a mile apart and like to spend time together walking their dogs. Recently, they had another thing in common-knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.
"It was gradual, but eventually my knees hurt so badly that I'd sit down as long as I could and put off having to walk," Chip said. "And when I finally stood up, it would take awhile before I could really get moving."
Mike's knee started hurting two years ago, and by late 2015 he couldn't walk without pain either.
"I couldn't take it any longer," Mike said. "I knew it was time to see someone about it."
Chip and Mike first spoke to their primary care physicians about their knees. Both were referred to orthopedic surgeons at Johnson County Orthopedics. Chip saw Dr. Daniel Schaper last summer, and Mike met Dr. Gregory Lynch at the end of the year. The doctors diagnosed osteoarthritis (OA) in both men's knees.
OA wears away the cartilage within the knee joint, which can lead to joint inflammation and cause pain, stiffness and reduce the knee's range of motion. OA is an age-related "wear and tear" type of arthritis, usually occurring in people 50 years of age and older.
For many patients, including Chip, 53, and Mike, 58, the best treatment option for degenerative OA of the knee is a total knee replacement, also called arthroplasty. The surgery involves replacing the damaged cartilage and bone in the knee joint with smooth, artificial implants known as prostheses. This prevents the bones from rubbing together and provides a smooth knee joint.
Since knee replacement surgery was first performed nearly 50 years ago, improvements in surgical materials and techniques have greatly increased its effectiveness. Total knee replacements are one of the most successful procedures in all of medicine. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, more than 600,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States.
Chip and Mike attended an educational class at OMC for joint replacement patients to help them learn more about the surgery, hospital stay and recovery.
In late January, Dr. Lynch performed a total knee replacement on one of Mike's knees. Five days later, Dr. Schaper replaced both of Chip's knees. Both gentlemen stayed in the hospital for three days before heading home to recover.
"The care I received at OMC was top-notch," Mike said. "The nurses were so responsive to my needs, and the physical therapists had me up and walking within just a few hours of surgery. Really everyone was so caring."
In the months following surgery, the two friends attended physical therapy regularly, and even shared the gym and some friendly competition a few times along the way.
"Part of rehabilitation is working to regain your range of motion, and I like to brag that I got up to 120 degrees before him!" Chip teased Mike.
Both have since returned to work and enjoy walking their dogs together again.
"Overall, the whole experience was phenomenal," Chip said. "It's great to be able to get around again without the pain."
To learn more about joint replacement at OMC, click here. To make an appointment, call 913-782-1148.