Dottie Shull, 88, is a walking testament for how effective total knee replacement can be to get you back on your feet. She says, “It’s been seven weeks now and I’m doing great. Everybody is amazed at how well I have done and I owe it all to Dr. Clegg.”
What’s It Like To Have Total Knee Replacement Surgery?
On June 26, 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dottie had a total knee replacement with Travis Clegg, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in minimally invasive hip and knee replacement.
Like many patients, Dottie struggled with making the decision to undergo the surgery, stating, “I had put this off for several years [due to my age].”
Despite her age, Dottie rarely slowed down. She said, “I had always been active, always walked, rode the bicycle, mowed my own yard with a push mower.” However, the constant pain and lack of mobility stemming from a worn-out knee joint eventually kept her from doing all the things that Dottie loved the most. Like a lot of pre-surgery patients, she tried all kinds of remedies to help her knee. She said, “I had taken therapy, exercise, and even had two PRP treatments in both knees and nothing was really helping.”
Dottie’s experience is typical. Many patients work with their clinicians on a variety of non-surgical techniques to improve the function of their “bad” knees. When non-surgical techniques no longer provide relief, patients have the option of seeking knee replacement surgery. This treatment can correct some of the most common types of knee pain and mobility issues related to:
- Osteoarthritis, a joint disease often related to the wear and tear of the knee
- Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inflammatory illness that can cause cartilage loss
- Post-traumatic arthritis that follows a significant knee injury
Dottie’s positive experience with Dr. Clegg reinforced her decision to seek surgery. His practice specializes in rapid recovery outpatient joint replacement that gets patients up and moving again on the same day of surgery.
Dr. Clegg commented on Dottie’s progress, stating, “She was up walking the halls within a couple of hours of her knee replacement. She went home that night. Her and I connected over the phone daily for a little while and she just did awesome.”
More than 90% of patients experience pain relief after knee replacement surgery but it was the return to full mobility that had Dottie excited about her surgery. She stated, “The biggest benefit of having the surgery with Dr. Clegg is I’m able to walk now.”
Dr. Clegg commented on Dottie’s efforts to get back to her normal level of activity, “She’s got this goal that she wants to do the walking bridge across the Ohio river and I have no doubt she’ll do it.”
Am I Too Old for Total Knee Replacement?
As Dottie illustrates, if you’re in good health, you’re never too old for total knee replacement. Verywell Health suggests that knee and hip replacement are the two most common types of joint replacement surgeries. These are typically performed in patients from age 55 to 80, although medical science continues to progress and patients are living longer and staying active well into their 80s.
It’s a myth to assume an older patient isn’t eligible for total knee replacement surgery. Your overall health is more important than your chronological age. Some of the factors your surgeons would consider include:
- Current health status, which is carefully measured through diagnostic testing and a physical exam
- Physical strength for undergoing the rehabilitation process
- Cognitive function to ensure you have the mental capacity to perform the physical therapy and rehabilitation necessary to ensure success
Orthopedic surgeons are trained to track these metrics along with a number of red flags that would make surgery too risky to consider. For example:
- An existing infection would rule surgery out
- Smoking is generally a no-no; it may not preclude surgery but it is
- Obesity may affect the surgery and healing process
- Substance abuse, alcoholism, or mental illness may be complicating factors
Is It Time to Consider Total Knee Replacement Surgery?
If you’re older and experiencing the pain of arthritic worn-out knees, total knee replacement surgery may be the best decision you’ve ever made. If you’re considering this surgery ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my pain impacting the quality of my life?
- Are my knees keeping me from being as active as I’d like to be?
- Is the pain in my knees keeping me from resting at night?
If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you may be a candidate for total knee replacement surgery. However, there are a few other questions to consider:
- Are you in good physical health (beyond your knee pain)?
- If you smoke, are you willing to give it up to improve your recovery?
- If needed, can you exercise and lose weight to speed your rehabilitation?
Dottie Shull is now another one of Dr. Clegg’s success stories, and she recommends his work to everyone, saying, “I love Dr. Clegg. He is the very best.”