Dr. Haynes is well accustomed to treating patients with orthopedic problems and returning them to their everyday normal activities. But he’s also treated patients who’ve been able to accomplish extraordinary things after his care. One such patient is Larry Pederson.
At 67, Larry admits he often forgets he’s had a knee replacement, but that might well be because he’s too busy road-biking 2 to 3 hours a day at his home in Colorado – after a daily routine that includes thirty minutes on the Stairmaster, sit-ups, pushups and weight-lifting. A self-described ‘maniac’ about exercise, who rides competitively and has the trophies and awards to prove it, Larry still remembers the pain that led to his 2002 surgery at Orthopaedic & Spine Center.
“Ten years ago, I was running about 50 miles a week and doing marathons,” he says, “and I had a bad case of Achilles tendonitis from a knee injury I had 30 years earlier, when I was in the Army.” He began seeing Dr. Haynes, a fellowship-trained specialist in sports medicine, who treated him with injections and anti-inflammatory medications. “It wasn’t that serious,” he remembers, and Dr. Haynes’ conservative treatment worked well – for three or four years.
But as Larry concedes, “When I got to be around 50 or so, my knee started giving me greater problems. I had developed osteoarthritis in both knees, but at one point, the pain in my right knee was getting more and more severe.” He called for an appointment, and saw Dr. Haynes 24 hours later.
“Larry was doing all the right things,” Dr. Haynes recalls. “He was using Aleve and glucosamine chrondroitin, but his pain was getting worse.” Dr. Haynes knew about the arthritis, but these new complaints were about a different section of his knee. “When Larry came to see me, he had pain on the inside of his knee, but his arthritis was mainly in the kneecap. I ordered x-rays, which confirmed the kneecap arthritis, but when I examined him, there was more pain on the inside of his knee – where we didn’t see a lot of arthritis. And the pain was getting worse.”
The next step – an MRI – revealed a very large tear in his meniscus. “We don’t do knee replacements right away,” Dr. Haynes continues. “We always try other options first.” In this case, it was an arthroscopic repair, which relieved Larry’s pain and worked well for nearly a year. But Dr. Haynes cautioned him: in presentations like his, where the tear is large, it’s not unusual for problems to recur.
“He told me when he scoped my knee that it would probably lead to a knee replacement at some time down the road,” Larry recalls, “because there was so much calcification there, there was no meniscus left and no cushioning, so as my osteoarthritis got worse, my knee would essentially disintegrate.” Dr. Haynes also told him what to be on the lookout for – common indications that his knee was getting worse. One of those symptoms was a mechanical “locking” of the knee.
For Larry, it happened one afternoon when he was home alone, painting the inside of a closet. “I’d been sitting on a stool, working for about an hour, and all of a sudden it happened,” he remembers. “My knee locked and I couldn’t move it at all. I couldn’t stand; I couldn’t manipulate it. I had to call my wife to come home and help me.”
After getting to the bed and managing to lie flat, Larry and his wife worked to extend his leg and move the knee joint so it would function. “I went to see Dr. Haynes the next day,” Larry says, “and told him, ‘It’s time.’”
Dr. Haynes scheduled the surgery – a total knee replacement. “Today, I might do a partial knee replacement on a patient like Larry,” the surgeon says, “but good tried and true partial joint implants weren’t available ten years ago.” Because of his physical condition, and his motivation, he’d have been a good candidate for that surgery.”
As it was, ten days after his total knee replacement in 2002, Larry jumped in a pool and spent 90 minutes treading water and swimming, which he credits with speeding up his recovery. Two weeks after the procedure, he was walking with a cane; and six weeks later, he left the cane in Dr. Haynes’ office and hasn’t used it since.
Dr. Haynes says the knee replacement will last the remainder of Larry’s life, and it’s a good thing: he continues to exercise strenuously, although not as a runner. “I did run a little bit after the surgery, a few 5 and 10Ks, but I couldn’t be competitive, so I didn’t like it,” he admits, “so I started doing a lot of hiking.” He stresses that he means hiking in the mountains, not flatland: by then, the Pedersons had moved to Colorado. When Larry Pederson hikes, he walks out his backdoor straight up a cliff to 12,000 feet. “I average 3 to 5 miles a day,” he says.
If he feels the rare twinge in his knee, he dismisses it: “With the biking, my calf and thigh muscles are so well developed they compensate for any kind of knee problem I might have. I don’t have aches or anything, even after exertion.”
And he’s quick to point out that none of this would be possible without Dr. Haynes’ care. “None at all,” he says, “I couldn’t do any of this without the surgery. I’d be using a cane or crutches, or more probably, I’d be in a wheelchair.”
Ten years after the surgery, he may have to remind himself he’s had his knee replaced, but he can’t imagine his life without it. “Life after surgery is 100% better,” he says. “There’ll be pain in the recuperation period, but it goes away entirely and you become stronger and have a better outlook than you did before. There’s no nagging pain. Your attitude changes to a much more positive one after the pain goes away. You’re motivated to do more things, and become more active.”
Larry admits he’s still obsessed with being active: “No one’s as maniacal about exercise as I am. But I have a good reason. My wife is a gourmet cook. I have to exercise a lot to offset my caloric intake.”
And of course, there are still trophy cases to fill!