A Recipe for
Joint Pain Relief
MAKO® robotic-arm assisted knee replacement surgery relieves Sarah Allen from joint pain and has her back on her feet just a day after surgery.
With a recipe in hand, a smile on her face and her famous purple apron wrapped snugly around her waist, Sarah spends most weekends with her grandchildren, family and friends, watching football and cooking up a storm in her beloved kitchen. At 78 years of age, the Huntington Beach resident lives a full and meaningful life with her husband, who she’s been married to for 56 years.
“I just love cooking. My husband and I have a running joke that cooking to me is what gardening and ‘digging in the dirt’ in our backyard is to him. Some see cooking as work, but for me, it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures – that and of course tasting my famous dishes from time to time,” Sarah giggles.
In her early 70s, Sarah developed osteoarthritis, a condition that occurs when the cartilage on the ends of your bones, which acts like a cushion, wears down over time. Due to the osteoarthritis, Sarah experienced excruciating pain in her right knee for years that was paired with an awful “crunching” noise when she walked. When she mentioned the noise and pain to her podiatrist, Wesley Kobayashi, D.P.M., he referred her to Timothy Gibson, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and medical director of the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Orange Coast Medical Center.
Dr. Gibson specializes in knee and hip replacement. He was the first surgeon in Orange County to perform a total knee replacement using the MAKO® robotic-arm assisted technology. He now uses it for all of his knee replacement surgeries – both partial and total.
“Patient response and patient recovery have exceeded our expectations,” he says. “With robotic control and precise pre-op planning, there’s lower potential for soft tissue trauma. Patients have less pain, less swelling and more flexibility right after surgery. Overall, it’s a better experience and a superior outcome.”
A giant leap for prosthetic hips and knees
When Sarah first consulted with Dr. Gibson, he took time to explain the workings of the robotic arm. He explained the process, which would begin by taking a detailed pre-operative computed tomography (CT) scan. The three-dimensional scan would allow him to create a computerized blueprint of Sarah’s leg from hip to ankle. He would then virtually place the new joint into this blueprint, subjecting it to range-of-motion and stress tests. Once the joint was fine-tuned, he would precisely plan the bone cuts.
During surgery, a tiny robotic camera would feed real-time images of the joint to a large monitor. He would compare these images to his pre-operative blueprint, adjusting the tension on tendons and ligaments as needed.
“As a surgeon, I’m a perfectionist,” says Dr. Gibson. “With the robotic-arm assisted surgery I’m in complete control, but the technology ensures that my human movements are robotically precise. That’s an ideal combination.”
The Joint Replacement program
Once Sarah decided to move forward with the surgery, she entered Orange Coast Medical Center’s Joint Replacement program. She attended a pre-op class which addressed all of her questions and set her expectations throughout the course of care, from beginning to complete recovery. She was sent home with a notebook that included all the information that was covered in class, plus surgical do’s and don’ts and a set of exercises she could do before surgery that would help ease her recovery.
After surgery, she spent the night in the hospital and, the next morning, she walked down the hall to her post-operative class.
“I went home that day and was even able to walk up the stairs,” says Sarah. “I could already bend my knee 90 degrees. When I saw Dr. Gibson two weeks later, I was walking without assistance. I didn’t need pain pills and I could bend my knee 131 degrees.”
Dr. Gibson attributes Sarah’s faster recovery, in part, to good anesthesia, which allows patients to handle pain and follow through with post-surgical physical therapy. He also points out that a smaller surgical window is required thanks to the robotic arm’s three-dimensional camera, thus reducing soft tissue trauma. Finally, the precise placement of the prosthetic joint means ligaments are balanced throughout the full range of motion.
“I chose the right doctor and I chose the right hospital. My experience could not have been better, start to finish,” says Sarah. “Thanks to Dr. Gibson and Orange Coast Medical Center, I’m back doing what I enjoy most – cooking and spending time with my loved ones.”
Sarah Allen, cooking in her beloved kitchen
wearing her famous “digging in the dirt” apron.
Shoulder Replacement: Q & A
The MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Orange Coast Medical Center offers a range of services to help improve the quality of life for patients living with severe or debilitating joint disease. In addition to knee and hip replacement, shoulder replacement options are also offered. Below, Trong B. Nguyen, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and medical director of the Total Shoulder Replacement Program at the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Orange Coast Medical Center, provides answers to frequently asked questions.
Q: What conditions might require shoulder replacement surgery?
A: Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis are by far the most common. When the joint cartilage breaks down, patients often get the sensation of bone rubbing against bone, in addition to severe pain and stiffness. These conditions often progress over time and may require surgery if nonoperative options fail. Other conditions that require shoulder replacement surgery include arthritis due to chronic rotator cuff tears, avascular necrosis (deterioration of bone tissue due to lack of blood supply), and severe fractures.
Q: What are the common symptons?
A: Typically, patients experience daily debilitating pain, weakness, with a limited range of motion, along with problems with normal daily activities.
Q: Are there non-surgical treatments?
A: Anti-inflammatory medicine, cortisone injections and physical therapy may help and are usually the first line options for certain conditions. If those are ineffective, surgery becomes the best option.
Q: What parts of the joint are replaced?
A: The surgical approach determines which parts of the joint are replaced. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, consisting of the glenoid or “socket” and the humeral head or “ball.” In full shoulder replacement (arthroplasty), a shallow polyethylene cup replaces the shoulder socket and a metal ball replaces the humeral head. In a partial shoulder replacement, we leave the natural socket intact, and replace only the humeral head. If indicated, a “reverse” shoulder replacement switches the ball-and-socket joint.
Q: How long is the recovery time?
A: Patients typically spend one night in the hospital and begin physical therapy almost immediately. Some patients who are eligible can perform the surgery as an outpatient. Activities are restricted for usually six to eight weeks. By 12 weeks post-surgery, most patients return to normal activity with little to no pain.
Q: Why should patients consider the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center?
A: The MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Orange Coast Medical Center offers a complete spectrum of care, from diagnosis and treatment to surgery and recovery. Our team of board-certified orthopedic surgeons, therapists and nurses are among the most experienced in Orange County in the treatment of joint pain. Patients are supported every step of the way with pre-op education and an individualized physical therapy plan post-surgery.