Janet’s Story: After serious knee injury, surgery was cure

JanetDoctors usually recommend knee replacement surgery as a last resort and only after pain medication or therapy can no longer maintain a person’s quality of life. For those who have the surgery, it can literally be a new lease on life.

“For the pain to suddenly disappear was amazing,” says Janet Mahler, 62, of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, who had knee replacement surgery at West Chester Hospital in September. “I have work to do getting my muscles back in shape, but to take a step without any pain felt like I had my freedom back.”

Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for knee replacement surgery in the United States. The surgery essentially replaces a diseased knee joint with artificial materials. For Janet, her journey to surgery was a little different. She fell off of a ladder while painting her home.

“I crushed my tibia. My knee was like jello,” she says. “I had surgery to place a plate and screws in my knee, and I was directed to avoid all weight-bearing movement for three months. I discovered that my leg had not healed properly.”

Janet had more surgeries, but still found herself in pain. She had to endure lengthy no-weight periods, and was unable to climb steps without terrible pain. Janet finally decided to have knee replacement surgery performed by Orthopaedic Surgeon T. Toan Le, MD, at West Chester Hospital.

During a total knee replacement, the end of the femur is removed and replaced with a metal shell. The end of the lower bone (tibia) is also removed and replaced with a channeled plastic piece with a metal stem. Janet says that a couple of days after her surgery she was able to put weight on her leg without pain. She was also able to lose the cumbersome knee brace she had worn for two years. And stairs don’t frighten her anymore.

“A week after my therapy the physical therapist allowed me to attempt to climb stairs. I was a little wary, but then I actually climbed the stairs and felt nothing – absolutely no pain. It was incredible. I almost started crying. I hadn’t felt this good in two years.”

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