February 25, 2019

Partial knee resurfacing allows patient to resume active lifestyle

Knee | Patient Stories | Total Joint Replacement


Partial knee resurfacing surgery has helped Carole Knoepler regain the active life that knee pain had taken from her.

Forty years ago, Carole 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.

Last year, Carole was experiencing extreme pain in her knee due to a completely detached ACL with knee arthritis. “Of course, that was before I found OrthoIndy,” Carole says.

Read on to learn how partial knee resurfacing has helped Carole get back to the sports and outdoor activities she enjoys.

A complex knee diagnosis

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

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,” Carole says. “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,” Dr. Hellman says.

“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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Partial knee resurfacing

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 resurfacing. 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,” Dr. Hellman says.

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, partial knee resurfacing occurs on just a portion of the knee. 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,” Carole says. “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 pain-free and worry-free with a stable knee.”

Following partial knee resurfacing 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,” Dr. Hellman says.

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,” Carole says. “I will forever be grateful to Dr. Hellman, Dr. Thieken and OrthoIndy for giving me the chance to live the life I’ve dreamt of.”

Learn more about joint replacement surgery at OrthoIndy

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. If you have knee pain and are considering knee replacement surgery, schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists to review your options.

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.

The Ultimate Guide to Knee Pain Relief cover

The Ultimate Guide to Knee Pain Relief

Take control of your knee pain, learn about treatment options, and find out if surgery might be able to help you get back to normal.

Download the guide

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000

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