Whether he’s hiking the Grand Canyon or trekking Mount Everest, Bellevue Club member Jay Shaw (left) has always led an active lifestyle with no plans for a quiet or sedentary retirement. But over the past 15 years, Jay experienced increasing knee pain and stiffness due to an early hiking injury that developed into osteoarthritis, a deterioration of the cartilage between the joint
surfaces in his knee. Jay certainly isn’t alone. Osteoarthritis affects nearly 20 million Americans each year, making it the No. 1 cause of disability in the United States. Following his doctor’s advice, Jay, 73, first managed the pain with medications and later underwent arthroscopic surgery, a procedure to remove loose fragments of bone and cartilage from the joint. Over time though, he noticed a reduced range of motion in his knee and endured more frequent pain when he walked. Both threatened to limit his energetic everyday life.
While early treatment can slow the progression of osteoarthritis, affected joints generally continue to deteriorate as a person ages. “With severe osteoarthritis, the cartilage deteriorates and the joint actually wears out from bone rubbing on bone, causing pain, swelling and loss of motion of the joint,” says Overlake’s Dr. Steven Ratcliffe, orthopedic surgeon with NW Orthopedic Physicians. “The joints aren’t replaceable by nature, so those
afflicted end up with declining activity and an increase in pain until something is done to fix the problem.” Jay reviewed his options with his doctor and together they decided it was time for knee replacement surgery. Total joint replacement resurfaces the damaged joint, typically with metal and plastic implants, creating new joint surfaces. Jay was a good candidate for the surgery. He is in good physical health, maintains a healthy weight, leads an active lifestyle and doesn’t smoke. “The most important factor for a successful outcome is the teamwork between the surgeon, the physical therapist and the patient. We can put in a technically perfect knee, but failure can occur if the rehabilitation isn’t taken seriously enough,” says Overlake’s Dr. Greg Engel, orthopedic surgeon with Bellevue Bone & Joint.
Jay took that sentiment to heart and knows that the key to his successful knee replacement was his mental preparation and commitment to therapy. “I was completely committed to the six- to eight-week regimen of physical therapy. I religiously followed my treatment schedule. For three weeks, I followed my home therapy exercises to keep my knee moving to prevent scar tissue from forming, and increase my strength and flexibility. I also worked one-
on-one with a physical therapist three times a week, and after that I rode my stationery bike to keep my knee moving but not overly stressed,” Jay says.
Several years after having his first knee replacement surgery in 2001, Jay went on a hiking trip to Mount Everest with his cousin, which took him from 9,000 feet to 13,500 feet high on the mountain. Once he returned from the hike, Jay decided to have his other knee replaced. “Before my first surgery, I had concerns about any limitations I might have after knee replacement. But after seeing how successful my first surgery was, I decided to have the second surgery without even blinking,” Jay says. “Many of us are living into our 80s and 90s, so joints are being asked to function much longer. Patients are also experiencing
debilitating osteoarthritis at younger ages. With more active lifestyles, we’re harder on our joints,” says Overlake’s Dr. James Bruckner, orthopedic surgeon with Proliance Orthopedics and Sports Medicine of Bellevue.
After two successful knee replacement surgeries, Jay continues to
pursue his passions, whether it’s kneeling down in his garden pulling weeds or rafting the Colorado River. “You’ve just got to keep moving. To me, it’s essential to anyone’s rehabilitation,” Jay says. Total joint replacement surgery involves a number of medical considerations, and only an orthopedic surgeon can determine which implant is the right course of treatment for you. The surgeon’s criteria may include overall health issues, age, activity level, weight and degree of arthritis, as well as
the implant’s track record, material and clinical success rate. Most physicians want to try conservative care first, and if that fails to deliver pain relief—and your quality of life is no longer acceptable—then you’re probably a good candidate for joint replacement. If you frequently experience any of the following, it might be time to ask your doctor about joint replacement:
Pain in your hip or knee that keeps you awake at night
Little or no relief from pain
Difficulty walking or climbing stairs
Trouble standing from a seated position
Having to quit activities you enjoy, such as walking, because you’re in too much pain.
The Joint Replacement Center at Overlake is a comprehensive orthopedic program, performing hundreds of joint surgeries annually. The region’s most qualified surgeons head up a talented team of anesthesiologists, nurses and physical therapists that perform all available joint replacement options. For more information on the center, please contact Carmen Quall at 688-5579 or email@example.com.