February 25, 2019

Knee surgery allows patient to resume active lifestyle

Knee | Patient Stories | Total Joint Replacement


Forty years ago Carole Knoepler was playing softball and injured her knee. After several knee scopes and meniscus repairs, she silently accepted that her knee would never be completely fixed.

“Of course that was before I found OrthoIndy,” said Carole.

Last year, Carole was experiencing extreme pain in her knee due to a completely detached ACL with arthritis. Knowing she couldn’t stand the pain any longer, she found herself making an appointment with OrthoIndy.

“My knee was completely unstable and due to a recent dislocation; it was so painful,” said Carole. “Simply walking would take my breath away. I would describe the pain as feeling like lightning strikes in my knee.”

A complex knee diagnosis

Originally, she made an appointment with OrthoIndy trauma surgeon, Dr. Dean Maar. Dr. Maar determined that his colleagues would be better suited to take care of Carole’s knee as her injury was more complicated than needing a knee replacement surgery.

“My knee instability had me so worried that I was afraid to cross streets, fearing my knee would give out,” said Carole. “I’d fallen down flights of steps because of my knee and my exercising was limited to cycling since that kept my knee more stable.”

OrthoIndy total joint surgeon, Dr. Edward Hellman and OrthoIndy sports medicine surgeon, Dr. Michael Thieken decided to work as a team to treat Carole’s knee pain.

“Carole is more athletic than many of our arthritis patients. If we had done a total knee replacement, she might not have been able to get back to some of her activities,” said Dr. Hellman. “By working as a team we were able to take advantage of Dr. Thieken’s experience with ligament reconstruction allowing me to do a less aggressive partial knee replacement.”

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Knee surgery

Surgery was necessary in order for Carole to return to an active lifestyle. Dr. Thieken would perform an ACL graft surgery and Dr. Hellman would do a partial knee replacement. Fortunately, both procedures were done in one surgery.

“The rehabilitation process for the two surgical procedures is similar enough to allow her to do both at once,” said Dr. Hellman.

During an ACL graft, your surgeon will replace the torn ligament with a tissue graft that acts as a foundation for a new ligament to grow on. This is done arthroscopically using small incisions, which means less pain and faster recovery time for the patient than in the past.

During a partial knee replacement, only a portion of the knee is resurfaced. This procedure is an alternative to total knee replacement for patients whose disease is limited to just one area of the knee.

“I was getting everything I needed done at once,” said Carole. “I was thrilled to finally have a stable, pain-free knee. I keep telling everyone I wish I would’ve done this sooner. I am finally since I can remember, pain-free and worry-free with a stable knee.”

Following knee surgery, the focus is on getting a good range of motion and controlling pain and swelling the first month. Then, the patient will progress to strengthening exercises, followed by resumption of normal activities when the surgeon gives them approval.

“As a joint replacement surgeon, my focus is usually on returning patients to routine activities of daily living. It’s been a pleasure to work with Carole, whose goals and expectations are much higher and to watch her achieve them,” said Dr. Hellman.

Carole is now able to cycle pain-free, hike, zip line, white water raft, snorkel, repel and dance with her husband and granddaughters without any knee pain. What’s Carole’s next goal? Bicycling along the coast of North Carolina and joining her community’s pickleball club.

“I feel like a teenager again,” said Carole. “I will forever be grateful for Dr. Hellman, Dr. Thieken and OrthoIndy for giving me the chance to live the life I’ve dreamt of.”

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hellman, please call 317.802.2844 or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Thieken, please call 317.802.2863. Learn more about knee pain treatment at OrthoIndy.

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000

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