Freedom following total knee replacement surgery

21 September 2021

After many years of enjoying an active outdoor lifestyle Fiona Mcdonald, 67, an office administrator from Pudsey, found herself struggling to walk more than a few yards due to her severely arthritic knee. The pain gradually worsened to the point she knew she had to do something about it.

“Life literally came to a stop. I was in agony as my left knee had deteriorated to the point it was causing bone to rub on bone. I was finding it difficult to sleep at night due to the pain and my knee had started to give way, so I was fearful of falling. I used to enjoy walking on Ilkley Moor and coastal paths and I couldn’t do any of those things anymore. I limped and was only able to walk short distances. I was getting desperate and knew that something needed to be done,” said Fiona.

Today, after undergoing a total knee replacement in May 2021, under the care of Mr George Whitwell, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital, Fiona is back at work and life is returning to normal. She says the transformation has been amazing.

“From the moment I arrived at Spire everyone on the team was fantastic. I felt comfortable straight away and everything went smoothly. I’m absolutely delighted with the results. My knee is so much better than I ever expected. I have full mobility, don’t walk with a limp and am pain free.

Mr Whitwell said, “Mrs Mcdonald had all the symptoms of severe knee osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis causes the normal layer of cartilage covering the bones in the knee to become damaged and thin. When the disease reaches the severe stage there is no cartilage left and bare bone begins rubbing against bare bone. Her symptoms had made her function very poor and even walking short distances had become very difficult.”

Total knee replacement surgery involves removing the arthritic damaged cartilage from the ends of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) and replacing them with a metal and plastic joint replacement. The implants are fixed to the bone using biocompatible bone cement acting like a high strength grout. Knee replacements are expected to last at least 25 years and due to improvements in design and technology most last for the patient’s lifetime, allowing surgeons to perform the procedure in much younger patients.

Mr Whitwell added, “We now expect patients to begin walking the same day as their surgery and after one or two nights in hospital they are ready to go home. Enhanced recovery techniques such as focused physiotherapy, patient pre-operative education and appropriate pain relief has significantly reduced length of stay following surgery. Many patients now being discharged the next day. Mrs Mcdonald was otherwise fit and well for her age and keeping herself healthy meant that she was able to make an excellent and rapid recovery following her knee replacement surgery. Six weeks after her surgery she was pain free and had regained her independence and mobility.”

Fiona is about to embark on a hiking holiday in the Scottish Highlands. “It’s wonderful to have my freedom again. That’s so important to me. I’m also looking forward to coastal walks as well as shopping and socialising with friends again. It’s been a long time and I am looking forward to everything!”

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