Nick’s story: A new knee means regular tee time with friends
July 31, 2018
Nick Mueller has always lived a very active lifestyle. An avid golfer at the Arlington Lakes Golf Club and regular at a nearby YMCA, Nick had experienced knee pain for years before coming to Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) for treatment. At first he tried to work through the pain with the help of over-the-counter medication. But that soon proved ineffective at giving him lasting relief.
“I ran the gamut for about 10 years or so,” says Nick. “I started with off-the-shelf pain relief cream and anti-inflammatories. Then I took prescription NSAIDs for osteoarthritis, which was fine for a couple of years. But then I developed some issues with my esophagus and stomach so I had to stop taking the prescription medications. Then I tried shots, wore the brace, the whole thing. It got to the point where there were just some things you’d choose not to do because it wasn’t worth the pain.”
“Dr. Kachar has also helped me with other things, but the knee was his area of concentration so that’s how I started with him,” says Nick. “He’s a great doctor. He never rushes or worries about spending too much time with you or anything like that, so I felt very comfortable in his care.”
About three weeks prior to the surgery, Nick went in for an MRI so that a company in Germany could make an exact replica of his knee. Dr. Kachar explains, “I used a new technology which allows the surgeon to use an MRI scan to help the company manufacture 3D custom molds for patients. This, in turn, decreases the duration of surgery, improves the accuracy of component placement and accelerates the rehabilitation.”
“And I got the mold afterward,” adds Nick, “which is pretty nice.”
As for the knee itself: it’s made from a cobalt-chromium alloy with a vitamin E-impregnated polyethylene bearing, and is expected to last Nick a lifetime.
Minimally invasive surgery for same-day discharge
Nick arrived at the hospital on a morning in January 2018 to have his procedure performed as an outpatient. He went home later that same day. “I never spent a night in the hospital, that was pretty amazing,” says Nick. “The whole experience was great. Even the paperwork and the intake procedure were all smooth and everybody was very kind to us, couldn’t be nicer.”
The main portion of Nick’s procedure took less than an hour. Dr. Kachar spent an additional 30 minutes to meticulously seal the watertight “plastic closure” with dissolvable sutures beneath the skin, which allows patients to shower on the very the first day without any need for dressing changes or suture removal.
Nick’s recovery was very rapid, with no complications or minimal postoperative pain. The day after his surgery, he began two weeks of home therapy through NCH.
“The home therapy was through the hospital and I had two people,” says Nick. “Both of them were super nice, very helpful and knowledgeable. They did a great job. I was actually walking pretty well within a week. At first I had a cane but basically it was more for decoration and the stairs than anything else.”
Back in action––and feeling like new
Today, Nick says of his right knee, “It’s basically as good as new. I work out regularly, about three or four times a week in the winter and two or three times a week in the summer. I do weight machines, the strider and the treadmill. And since golf season started, as soon as a course opens up they’ve got me. I golf twice a week.”
Nick says he has one regret about the procedure: that he waited so long to do it.
“I think I waited maybe a year or two years too long,” says Nick. “It was such a pain wearing the brace and I didn’t mind the shots so much, but you still have pain, discomfort and inconvenience. If I had known how well the knee replacement would go, I would’ve done it years sooner.”
Nick says If you’ve been sidelined by joint pain, get to NCH and see one of the orthopedic specialists. You’ll feel like new in no time.