Mobility Improves After Robotic-assisted Knee Replacement
Outdoorsman Craig Moody enjoys whitewater kayaking and hunting with his family near his home in Port Huron, Michigan.
In recent years, the 78-year-old struggled with these activities because of pain and irritation in his left knee.
Moody stopped kayaking because it was difficult to get in and out of the boat. His knee problems also disrupted turkey and deer hunting excursions with his son and grandsons.
“Usually, I have to go [hunt] in a different place [than] where they are [hunting] because I make so much noise getting down on a stool or sitting on a cushion,” he said. “And then it’s comical to watch me try and get up after that.”
As his knee discomfort increased, his daily two-mile walks with his wife, Gaye, decreased in distance.
“It was slowing him down a lot,” Gaye said about her husband’s knee pain. “There was so much that he used to do.”
Over a five-year period, Moody tried nonsurgical treatments, including cortisone injections, physical therapy, weight loss and activity modification. These methods failed to sustain pain relief or improve his mobility.
“His knee was very stiff and very painful, and it interfered with his activities of daily living,” said Moody’s orthopedic surgeon, Raj B. Makim, MD. “He couldn’t enjoy the things that he wanted to do.”
X-rays verified that Moody’s knee was in the advanced stage of arthritis. After reviewing treatment options, he underwent robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery this past summer at an ambulatory surgery center.
“My knee wasn’t going to get any better,” he said. “Even with physical therapy before, it was just bone-on-bone. I just couldn’t move.”
Robotics and Knee Replacement
Approximately 790,000 knee replacement procedures are performed annually in the United States. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons reports that the number of these surgeries will increase to 3.5 million annually by 2030.
In traditional and robotic-assisted surgery, surgeons replace the knee’s damaged bone and cartilage with prosthetic joint components called implants.
For Moody’s procedure, Dr. Makim used a robotics platform. The system uses a CT scan of a patient’s joint to develop a personalized surgical plan. During the surgery, the surgeon guides a robotic arm to remove arthritic bone and cartilage from the knee.
Orthopedic surgeon William Braaksma, MD, said robotics is a “very sophisticated tool” used under the guidance of the surgeon.
“It is not a substitute for judgment or skill in the operating room,” he said. “It requires skill, and the surgeon has to know what they’re doing to make it work.”
According to Dr. Braaksma, the use of robotic technology helps improve precision and accuracy in medical procedures, leading to reduced pain and swelling and faster patient recovery.
Surgery Yields Positive Results
Moody was released from the center to begin his home recovery hours after his knee replacement surgery. Two days later, he returned for a post-operative exam with his surgeon. He also scheduled physical therapy sessions as part of his rehabilitation to strengthen his knee.
Two weeks after surgery, Moody had regained his range of motion and his strength in his knee. He transitioned from using a walker to a cane and then to walking unassisted.
Four to six weeks after knee replacement surgery, patients generally resume daily household activities, including walking, sitting, standing and climbing stairs.
Other low-impact activities patients may enjoy include golf, biking, swimming, hiking and even some dancing. Patients should avoid high-impact activities like jogging, skiing, tennis and other sports that involve contact or jumping.
Within an eight-week period post-surgery, Moody had resumed day-to-day activities, started driving again and returned to mowing his lawn. He said he was “100 percent better” after his knee replacement.
“I’m ahead of the curve of rehabbing,” Moody said. “I’m doing more things […] than I did a year ago.”
Most people who have knee replacement surgery experience significant pain relief, improved mobility and a better overall quality of life.
“That’s one thing about knee replacement — it’s basically one of the most successful operations in orthopedics, and it’s one of the most life changing for people,” Dr. Makim said.
Months after her husband’s surgery, Gaye celebrates his recovery.
“I’m excited because it’s good to see him excited and not hurting,” she said. “He’s back, and it’s wonderful.”
As his activity level increases, Moody said he views the prominent scar on his knee as “a success story.”
“This knee was shot, and now it’s not,” he said, smiling.
Don’t Delay Your Diagnosis
During Bone and Joint Health Awareness Month, it is important to evaluate your quality of life. If you experience any chronic pain, stiffness or tenderness in your knee, hip, shoulder or back, don’t ignore your symptoms.
Contact your orthopedist, who will evaluate your symptoms and make suggestions for the best treatment options. Treatments may include at-home remedies like hot or cold therapies and massage, physical therapy or even surgery.
If you are advised to have surgery, opt for an ambulatory surgery center for your orthopedic treatment. ASCs offer patients a more comfortable environment at a lower expense, convenient parking, shorter wait times and a decreased ratio of patients to nurses. Patients are sent home on the same day as the procedure to recuperate.
Before deciding on any treatment plan for your chronic pain, request an appointment today for an evaluation.
This article is designed for educational purposes only. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health concern or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health concern, you should consult your healthcare provider.