Decades of knee pain:
Judith’s story

Decades of pain relieved with a knee replacement

Retired physiotherapist and keen artist, Judith has had knee pain since she was in her forties. At the age of 81, after years of suffering, she made the decision to explore her options to cure her knee pain.

Judith, who worked in the NHS and private practice before becoming a physiotherapist for the Army, explains: “For decades, I had patellofemoral pain in my knees. But at that time there wasn’t much they could do, so my GP recommended I take anti-inflammatories to manage the pain. So I just carried on as normal. As a physiotherapist, I knew the worst thing I could do would be to sit in a chair and do nothing. So, I resolved to keep moving and put up with the pain.”

And keep moving she did. Since retiring at the age of 60, Judith has kept herself busy designing five gardens from scratch and, after turning her hand to acrylic painting at the age of 70, she enjoys exploring art galleries to fuel her artistic interests. After moving to Wales, Judith and her husband Pat began hill walking, taking their rescued collies with them. It was then that she started to experience more pain and decided to seek advice about her knees.

Time to explore new treatments

Judith explains: “Eight years ago, after our move to Wales, I decided I needed to see someone about the pain. So, I saw an orthopaedic surgeon, who administered injections into the patella every six months. And that was marvellous. However, the effect only lasted for four to five months, and then I would need another injection. But when the pandemic hit, the injections stopped. So, for four years, I didn’t have any treatment for my knee pain.”

Two years ago, Judith and her husband made the decision to move back to London to be closer to family but, sadly, not long afterwards, her husband became ill and passed away. When the pain spread from the side of the knee to the whole of the knee, Judith decided the time for a knee replacement had come.

Taking the surgical route

Judith spoke to her GP, who referred her to Mr Thompson at The Lister Hospital.  Mr Thompson had carried out a knee replacement for the GP’s mother, so Judith was confident with the recommendation. She continues: “When I met Mr Thompson, he arranged for me to have X-rays and decided a total knee replacement would be possible on my right knee.

“I was so pleased to find out that Mr Thompson would replace my knee with a patient-specific instrumented joint rather than a traditional one. As a physiotherapist, I liked the idea of having something innovative and relatively new. It was the same advanced technology used to replace my GP’s mother’s knee who had a fabulous outcome.”

Speaking about her experience, Judith tells us: “When I was admitted to The Lister Hospital, everyone was really friendly, reassuring and very professional, and I was taken to theatre just a couple of hours later. The anaesthetist was fantastic – I had concerns about having a spinal anaesthetic, but it was done brilliantly, and I felt absolutely nothing.”

After her surgery, Judith spent one night at The Lister Hospital before being discharged home. Her recovery has been every bit as good as she’d hoped: “My knee has been incredible. As a physiotherapist, I treated people with knee replacements, so I know what can go wrong, but this knee has been fantastic. After the first week, I was walking without a stick or a crutch, and by four weeks, I was walking a mile a day. Now, after six weeks, I’m walking two miles every day.

“I have a full range of movement in my knee and, at my follow-up appointment, even Mr Thompson commented that I was ahead of the curve in my recovery – which was lovely to hear.” As part of her post-operative care and support, Judith sees a physiotherapist every three to four weeks and follows a comprehensive program of exercises and stretches.

She continues, “I make myself do much more than probably the average person, but even I don't do as much as I should. The physiotherapist's programme is great. It helps strengthen the knee but also helps generally rehabilitate and strengthen my back, core and other leg.”

Looking to the future

Judith’s knee replacement story may well have a second chapter. Her scans showed that the left knee was worse than the right, so another operation may well be on the cards. Until then, however, Judith is looking forward to getting her life back.

While in recovery, her pet poochon (a toy poodle crossed with a bichon) has been a worthy companion. Judith adds, “My little dog is fantastic, he makes me walk. I think all elderly people should have a dog on prescription. All the friends I’ve made since moving have been people I’ve met when walking him.”

What’s first on her to-do list once she has fully recovered from this procedure? “Everything London has to offer!” she says, “starting with the art galleries.”

Mr Simon Thompson is a Consultant in Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery at The Lister Hospital in Chelsea. He specialises in all aspects of knee surgery including acute ligament injuries, meniscal injuries, complex ligament reconstruction and joint replacement. His particular field of expertise is ACL reconstruction, revision ACL surgery and ACL research.

Learn more about acute knee injury treatment at HCA UK, or call 020 3733 5966 to book an appointment.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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