Brenda Ross: Knee Replacement
Your active lifestyle doesn't have to end when chronic pain begins
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Knee Replacement Gave This Teacher a Lesson on Living
Activities Brenda once took for granted, like walking down a hall, became difficult. During her last two years of teaching, Brenda would walk to her classroom everyday with the help of a walker to help relieve her of the pain.
After teaching for 30 years, Brenda retired from Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School. “Even though everybody was so supportive of me, I was embarrassed to use a walker because of my age,” Brenda recalls. “I would like to have taught a few more years, but I knew I needed knee replacement surgery.
Brenda found out she had a torn meniscus, which damaged the cartilage in her knee. Her doctor prescribed anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce the pain. Unfortunately, the pain returned with a vengeance. When her doctor told her that the deteriorating cartilage in her knees caused bone to rub against bone, Brenda underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair her torn cartilage. As time passed, her failing knees still gave her grief and limited mobility.
With arthritis of the knee, Brenda’s knee joints became swollen and stiff, making it hard to bend or even straighten her knees. She watched helplessly as her symptoms worsened. She had had enough.
Brenda Did Her Homework
With a family history of osteoarthritis, Brenda decided to seek more medical advice. Standing 5 feet 4 ½ inches tall, she worried that her excess weight would make her knees worse. She knew that her knee arthritis would progress slowly and lead to a poor quality of life. While perusing Kelsey-Seybold Clinic’s Guide to Clinics and Providers, Brenda came across the name of orthopedic surgeon and knee specialist David Edelstein, M.D. and made an appointment at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic’s Main Campus near the Texas Medical Center.
Brenda is among the more than 400,000 people in the United States who get their knees replaced each year. Nearly two-thirds are women; women suffer from more knee pain and disability than men.
But are people like Brenda good candidates for knee replacement surgery?
“With the severe pain and loss of functional capacity, Brenda was a prime candidate for the procedure,” says Dr. Edelstein. “She has an overall positive outlook on life, which helped greatly. I told her that knee replacement surgery is an elective surgery that can improve function to relieve her pain.”
Dr. Edelstein introduced Brenda to an improved knee implant especially designed for women’s smaller knees. “The dimensions of these new implants help give patients better flexibility and range of motion,” he says.
After consulting with Dr. Edelstein, Brenda had her left knee replaced in 2006, and her right knee replaced in June 2007.
For Brenda, following her doctor’s orders was key to a successful recovery.
“I learned it’s imperative that you go to physical therapy after surgery, and do your recommended exercises,” Brenda says. “If you can’t commit to do the exercises, then you shouldn’t have the surgery. You can increase the mobility of your knees for up to a year after surgery
How Brenda and Her Doctor Knew She Needed Knee Replacement
People like Brenda who have difficulty walking or performing everyday activities, such as getting dressed, are prime candidates for knee replacement surgery. Physicians generally try to delay total knee replacement for as long as possible and opt for less invasive treatments. For patients with advanced osteoarthritis, knee replacement offers the chance for relief from pain and a return to normal activities.
In the United States, the average joint replacement patient is around 65 to 70 years old. However, patients of all ages are having the surgery, and an increasing number of baby boomers like Brenda are having their knees replaced with great success.
Knee replacement surgery has a respectable track record. “About 80 percent of patients have a superb result, with about 5 percent of patients for one reason or another not doing as well as we’d like them to,” adds Dr. Edelstein. “Some 10 to 15 percent have good results with some stiffness and pain. But they feel much better than they had felt before the surgery.”
Dr. Edelstein credits Brenda’s determination to take charge of her health. “Brenda was proactive. She asked questions and didn’t just put herself in the hands of her doctor,” he says. “She is exercising and improving her condition, which can greatly optimize her health.
Putting Her New Knees to the Test
For some people who have knee replacement surgery, it can be challenging to return to an active way of life. But not for Brenda. If a patient’s outcome after surgery were a test, it’s safe to say that Brenda Ross passed with flying colors.
Nowadays, Brenda swims and works out at a local fitness center. She can perform household chores without sitting down every 10 minutes like she used to, and enjoys being able to stand long enough to cook a meal for her family. She looks forward to going fishing, traveling, remodeling her home and walking without pain.
“I’m thankful that I met Dr. Edelstein at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic and that we were able to make the surgery happen,” Brenda says. “He really helped me through it all and made me feel like I was his only patient.”
With her new lease on life, Brenda decided it was time to get out of retirement and return to the classroom as a substitute teacher. She heads back to school this fall and is looking forward to strolling the hallways – without a walker.