A former nurse of 25 years, Noblesville resident Patty planned to spend her retirement doing the things she loved: walking her dog, Bella, water skiing and playing tennis. But knee pain was getting in the way of her plans.
“When I was 30, I got really sick, and the doctors had to give me IV steroids,” Patty recalled. “When I asked the doctor if there were any side effects from the steroids, he said ‘yes, you’re probably going to get early arthritis in your knees.’”
As predicted, the pain started in Patty’s left knee, and in 2013, she had a total knee replacement; something she described as the most painful experience of her life.
“The outcome of my first knee replacement was good, but the healing process was really hard,” Patty recalled. “I woke up from the surgery in horrible pain, so I was prescribed oxycontin. It helped, but it was difficult to wean off of. It was just a long, painful process overall.”
Within a couple years of having her left knee replaced, Patty began to have pain in her right knee. Knowing another joint replacement was probably in her future, Patty decided to talk to a specialist. Her previous surgeon from another health system had since retired, so Patty decided to make an appointment with Riverview Health Physicians Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, where she would be scheduled for her second knee replacement.
But despite her growing discomfort, Patty’s nerves ended up getting the best of her and she canceled her surgery two months prior. Inevitably, her knee pain continued to get worse.
Finally during the summer of 2017, water skiing became so painful for Patty that she knew she wouldn’t be able to continue to ski if something didn’t change. Patty decided to make another appointment with Riverview Health, and she got her knee replacement rescheduled.
Although she was fearful, Patty was reassured that the new technology being used at Riverview Health would make her experience easier this time.
And it was. Thanks to a combination of cryoneurolysis—a procedure done prior to surgery that temporarily freezes nerve endings in the knee to dull or eliminate pain—and the tourniquet-less knee approach, which spares patients the thigh pain that comes with using a tourniquet during surgery, Patty felt better than ever after her joint replacement.
“The morning after surgery I woke up and I swear I could have walked around the block,” Patty said. “I thought, ‘this really doesn’t hurt, I can move it, I can bend it, there isn’t even that much swelling!’”
Because of the pain-reducing steps taken, Patty was able to decrease the dose of prescribed pain medication she took after surgery. More impressive still, within three months of having the procedure Patty started water skiing and playing doubles tennis again.
“I had an amazing experience,” Patty said. “All of my caregivers were great—my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the nurses, the physical therapists. Everyone made sure I was comfortable and informed about what was going on.”
As for those who may be fearful to undergo a joint replacement surgery, Patty said not to hesitate to get the procedure done.
“The surgery has changed significantly from what it used to be,” Patty said. “Between the tourniquet-less approach and cryoneurolysis, my experience was amazingly easy.”