After struggling with chronic knee pain for more than 20 years, outdoors enthusiast Mike Roberts couldn’t enjoy his favorite activities, such as hiking, skiing and biking. About two years ago, after being informed of all the pros and cons and the importance of strict adherence to the one-year rehabilitation schedule, Roberts decided that treatment from the Mizzou BioJoint® Center was right for him.
Surgeons at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute use donated tissue and bone to repair knees, hips and other joints rather than replacing the joints with metal-and-plastic devices. The procedure is designed for patients who are young and active.
Here is Mike’s story, in his own words.
I was born and raised in St. Louis, I graduated from Mizzou and I have lived in Wyoming for the last 32 years. I currently live in Cody, Wyoming. I am 58 years old. I retired from my first career a couple of years ago. I was a forestry technician, cartographer, computer specialist and business manager. For the last 10 years of that career, I was an assistant district manager for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. I am now doing some tour-guiding and figuring out what my next career might be, if I can find time between fence work, irrigation, landscaping, etc.
I like outdoor activities. Or maybe I should say that I need outdoor activities. I'm not happy unless I can get out and hike, climb to the tops of mountains, bike and ski regularly. And I was cutting back on these activities because my knee just hurt too much. Friends commented on how significant my limp had become when I walked.
I was a runner for 40 years, and it was my favorite exercise. I gave it up a few years before the BioJoint procedure because the pain was too great. Part of the meniscus in my knee was gone, and the cartilage on the ends of the leg bones was damaged so that I had bone-on-bone contact in my left knee. Skiing was difficult because I was trying so hard to protect that knee and avoid the pain that my motion just didn't work. I had to cut back on hiking and climbing, because although I could still go up mountains, coming down was painful, and I knew the day would come when I would be stranded up high, unable to get down. The last year before my BioJoint surgery, even hiking on gentle terrain was extremely painful. The only thing I could do without significant pain was bicycling, but off the bike the pain and limited range of motion resulted in a more pronounced limp.
These were the things that made life fun. And here I was, in my 50s, contemplating possible elimination from my life of the things I really enjoyed because my knee could no longer handle them.
I chose BioJoint because I knew of the limitations of metal-and-plastic replacements. My original knee had lasted through 40 years of running, hiking, skiing and backpacking before it finally wore out. I was told by orthopaedic surgeons that with a metal-and-plastic knee, I couldn't even run once.
If you had an active lifestyle and have lost it because of a damaged knee, this might be the procedure for you. It's not easy. The activity restrictions of the recovery period were tough for me. The recovery takes effort. Couch potatoes should probably look elsewhere. But if you want to be active again, and you want a knee that can actually handle that, the BioJoint knee is worth the effort.
One other thing I would like to mention is that the BioJoint team was excellent. I called them the BioJoint Dream Team. On my first visit, the entire team came in for my consultation — the whole team! I had never experienced anything like it. Each of them was top-notch in their specialty. Dr. Jim Stannard and Dr. Jimi Cook took the time to answer all my questions, and I felt so comfortable with them. Each of the other team members was so thorough and competent and willing to get things right. Kylee Rucinski worked through the insurance issues. Cory Crecelius worked with me to help me understand the physical therapy that would be needed. Allison Shaw worked hard to get the right graft. Sure, BioJoint is innovative, and so is the tissue preservation with MOPS that I got, but it's not just innovation — the BioJoint Dream Team knows how to execute.
After the one-year recovery period, I have run a little, although I haven't returned to regular, serious running. But I can walk again! I am hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I can climb mountains again and not worry about getting back down. Even now, almost two years after the BioJoint surgery, the knee is still improving, and I think my ability to function in the outdoors will still get better. Life is good again!