This is the story of James, a 69-year-old man full of vitality and passionate about sport who saw his life truncated by osteoarthritis of his knees.
For several months he felt discomfort that ended in a pain that forced him to hang up his cycling jersey. Feeling trapped between the walls of his house, he decided to take a brave step and consult me regarding his case to see what he could do to recover mobility in both knees.
You may find yourself in a situation similar to his and one of your knees is forcing you to give up an active life. That’s why James has decided to share his testimony in this article.
“Even standing for any time was uncomfortable”
When he came to my office, James seemed like a shadow of his former self. Despite having the body of someone who plays sport daily, seeing him wincing at every step broke my heart. The evolution of his osteoarthritis had reached a point where his quality of life had diminished considerably. As James himself recalled:
“Before surgery I could not walk any distance without developing discomfort, eventually considerable pain. The same with climbing stairs or going on a cycle ride, even standing for any time was uncomfortable.”
Things didn’t look good for James. Both knees presented advanced osteoarthritis. He suspected we would have to operate on them. But it was very hard for him to hear that the evolution of osteoarthritis meant that the most viable option for recovering mobility would be a total replacement. In both knees.
“James, we’re going to have to put prostheses on both knees.”
“Your knees are very weak,” I told him, “they are very worn, so a more conservative treatment based on applying stem cells and platelet-rich plasma will give you temporary improvement but will not solve the problem. The only option for getting back to your normal life is to replace your knees with prostheses.”
James kept his composure, although, from my years of experience communicating this news, I could almost hear the conversation inside his head. I decided to clarify how we were going to perform the operation:
“Obviously we are not going to replace both knees at the same time. We’ll start by operating on the left knee, which is the one in the worse state. ”
Three years later, after having successfully operated on both knees, James remembers how he felt at that time and what his main fear was:
“I was fearful of the operation involving the removal of parts of the knee and substituting with manmade parts. I also had the concern that the operation would not be, or partially be, successful.”
Surgery is only the first step to recovery
The fear that James felt at the idea of having to wear prostheses on both knees is natural and understandable.
But I made him see that much of the success of the operation depended directly on his involvement in the recovery process.
“The key to a good recovery in this type of surgery lies in two elements: the surgeon’s experience and your commitment to carry out postoperative exercises to recover the knee’s mobility. I control only one of the elements. The other is up to you. Of course, we will give you all the instructions and exercises you need to recover quickly and safely. But if you don’t do your part, the recovery will only be half done. Everything counts here. My role and yours. I’m convinced that working together you will have a very high chance of recovery.”
These words seemed to have an effect on James. With a sparkle in his eyes, James asked me a lot of questions about the operation, recovery exercises and how long it would take to recover mobility after surgery. I responded with patience and dedication to each of his doubts and stressed that this would be a collaborative effort:
“In order for you to recover mobility like you had before osteoarthritis, we’re need to give the best of ourselves. I’m going to be 100% involved, are you willing to do the same?”
It was what James needed to hear:
“Dr Gallego gave me so much confidence before the operation and gave exceptional care and attention afterwards. He addressed any concerns or worries with a friendly and authoritative manner. Even the hospital staff were also very involved during my recovery.”
Both procedures went well. But the credit was NOT solely due to my expertise as a surgeon. The key to success was the willingness and involvement of James himself throughout the postoperative period and recovery:
“Having had both knees replaced over two years I really learnt the need to follow the advice of Dr Luis Gallego and do the exercises he recommended. I also had really good physiotherapy which allowed me to make a full recovery.”
“I can easily walk over 10,000 steps or cycle over 36 kilometers.”
James represents the type of patient I most like to help.
Active people who want to do everything possible to get back the lifestyle that osteoarthritis had taken from them. People who are involved in their rehabilitation because they know that it is the most effective way to return to a life without pain or movement limitations. Fighters who adopt the Japanese adage of “if you fall 7 times, get up 8”.
Thanks to this attitude, he has made a full recovery:
“Since the operation I can easily walk over 10,000 steps, cycle over 36 kilometers or climb stairs with no discomfort.
My knee replacement surgery has literally improved my enjoyment of life. It has given me back all the mobility I had years ago, and I have never looked back since.”
When I asked James if he could share his story in order to inspire other people and would recommend their going to my office to treat their knee osteoarthritis, he didn’t hesitate for a moment to say:
“I definitely would recommend Dr Gallego to anyone who has similar knee problems, who wants to get back full mobility or who wants to be able to walk, cycle or play games like golf again.”
When choosing professional help to treat and rehabilitate your knee osteoarthritis, it is essential that your surgeon is up to date with the most promising treatments and has access to the most innovative prostheses to facilitate the recovery of mobility.
I would like to thank James’s generosity in lending his time to help other people with knee osteoarthritis with his testimony.
If this is your case or you have a family member with this condition, I’ve designed an online questionnaire that will help you know what degree of osteoarthritis you have and which treatment is most suitable for your situation.
If you would like to have a conversation to find out how I can help you, this is the place. Contact me and I’ll give you free advice with no obligations.