2 Your Health – Dispelling the myths of knee replacement surgery: A different path to walk

Editor’s Note: “2 Your Health” is a new column in the Robson Ranch Pioneer Press dedicated to health issues. Each month different doctors and or medical associations, from varying specialties, will be writing on issues of importance. Articles are based on experiences and independent research conducted by the doctors or medical associations. We encourage anyone considering changing medications and or altering medical therapy, as a result of information contained in these articles, to consult your doctor first. Robson Publishing, a division of Robson Communities, Inc. is not liable for information contained in these articles.

Ben E. Dickerson, PhD, LPCS

One year ago I underwent an experience that is all too common among our Robson Ranch community—a knee replacement. Before my surgery I was often misinformed by well-meaning friends as to what they felt was ahead for me. Their counsel and dire warnings were not what I actually experienced.

As a result I want to share the pilgrimage of my surgery, rehabilitation and healing in an attempt to encourage those of you who might be facing the experience.

I have always felt surgery is an option only after trying less invasive therapies. Therefore, for more than a year I tried in vain to find relief for my knee pain with alternative therapies and pain medications. None of these could bring lasting relief. If I were to continue my active Robson Ranch lifestyle, I believed a total knee replacement was my only option.

My surgery took place in June 2014. Since then I have completed all my rehabilitation and now walk five miles a day around Robson Ranch. You may have seen me with my Fitbit and my Dalmatian, Artie.

I took several important steps in preparation for my knee replacement that directly contributed to the remarkable pain-free life I now live.

To ensure I would be a good candidate for surgery, I first had a complete physical with my internist. My doctor made certain I had no underlying problems which would hinder my surgery or recovery.

Like many Robson residents, I take some daily medications for minor medical ailments. Well before my surgery I scheduled a consultation with my local pharmacist who researched possible interactions between my current prescriptions and those I would likely be given pre- and post-surgery. This step was very helpful in ensuring no unforeseen complications arose.

My wife Florence is a physical therapist. She encouraged me to strengthen my thigh muscles by doing leg exercises. These movements and repetitions were designed to strengthen the muscles without unduly stressing the injured knee. I can’t overstate the importance of this preparation.

I got recommendations from friends and colleagues on several potential orthopedic surgeons, and I researched each of them. I found all of them were extremely competent and proficient in total knee replacement surgery, but I found Dr. Michael J. Champine, MD was the one I connected with on a personal level. His board certification in Adult Reconstruction of the Hip and Knee and his calm, assured personality gave me the confidence I was looking for in my surgeon. Additionally, Dr. Champine was a graduate of my alma mater, Texas A&M University, which was a super plus for his selection.

Dr. Champine exclusively performs his operations at the Texas Institute for Surgery in Dallas, Texas. This doctor-owned hospital specializes in orthopedic surgeries and has a very low patient to nursing staff ratio. The entire staff was incredibly caring and professional. Contrary to my expectations, this specialty hospital did not cost more than any of the general hospitals I considered. My care was unbelievably positive and rewarding.

After my surgery, instead of coming home I chose to transfer to the Select Rehabilitation Hospital in Denton, Texas for five days of almost continuous therapy. This kind of intensive post-surgery rehabilitation was a major factor in my ultimate complete recovery. Once home, a physical therapist, Max Dixon, visited me for six weeks to complete my rehabilitation with amazing results.

Knee replacement surgery will never be an experience one will look forward to. It is a long process that is sometimes difficult and often challenging. However, if you have strong prayerful support from family and friends, proper pre-surgical preparation, a great surgeon, an outstanding hospital staff and exceptional rehabilitation, it is a process you will look back upon as a distant speed bump in your life. This will be especially true as you are walking your pain-free miles every day of your future.