For years, Kaye Johnstone put other people’s needs ahead of her own despite the nagging ache and pain in her right knee. She “just dealt with it” until a weekend of yardwork left her in such excruciating pain that she couldn’t stand it any longer.

News | one year ago

Successful Total Knee Replacement Allows Patient to Celebrate 50th Wedding Anniversary Pain Free

For years, Kaye Johnstone put other people’s needs ahead of her own despite the nagging ache and pain in her right knee. She “just dealt with it” until a weekend of yardwork left her in such excruciating pain that she couldn’t stand it any longer. That’s when she met Dr. Kevin Weiss, who recommended a total knee replacement. Post-surgery, Kaye’s no longer in pain, which has enabled her to reclaim her life and celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary as planned—with a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia.

Kaye Johnstone raised three sons and spent 29 years working at a dry cleaners, where she was on her feet all day. Her right knee bore the brunt of this daily routine, which she managed to “put out of her head” for a long time because, as a wife, mom and employee, she says there was no time to do otherwise. That changed last spring, when yardwork aggravated Kaye’s knee, causing unbearable and unrelenting pain.

After being treated by Kevin Weiss, DO, an orthopedic surgeon at Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute (MSKI) Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Rock Hill, she’s now experiencing life without knee pain for the first time in years at the age of 68.

“Let’s Talk About Your Knee”

Kaye reached her breaking point late one night after being unable to comfortably sit, stand or sleep for weeks due to her worsening knee pain. Desperate at 1:30 a.m., she booked an appointment through MyAtriumHealth for the following day with her primary care physician, Tara Branton, MD, of Atrium Health Weddington Family Medicine.

“My knee’s killing me,” she explained in the exam room while visibly struggling with the pain. Dr. Branton immediately referred Kaye to Dr. Weiss, getting her in to see him that same day.

“From the moment I stepped into their office, they were like family,” Kaye says of the care and compassion she received at Atrium Health MSKI. After they took some initial X-rays, Dr. Weiss sat down with her. “He’s in a league of his own,” she says. “When he’s talking to you, he makes you feel like you’re the only one who matters.”

Dr. Weiss told Kaye that her knee pain stemmed from severe osteoarthritis, a degenerative form of arthritis that gradually wears away the knee’s cartilage. After discussing her treatment options, Dr. Weiss recommended a total knee replacement in order to eliminate her arthritis and allow Kaye to do the things she wanted to without pain, including her long-planned 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

Kaye agreed and within two weeks of her first appointment with Dr. Weiss, she had a date set for the procedure that would allow adequate healing time before her family trip to Williamsburg with her husband and her grown sons and their families.

Resurfacing the Knee

With a total knee replacement, the surgeon exposes the damaged ends of the bones, shaves off the damaged cartilage and replaces it with an implant in order to create a smooth joint surface for the patient to move around on without pain. Atrium Health MSKI has access to all of the major implant devices, which allows the expert team to provide individualized care to patients like Kaye, who’s cartilage damage likely developed over several years, says Dr. Weiss.

In addition, Atrium Health MSKI uses a multi-disciplinary, patient-centered approach in performing total joint replacements. According to Dr. Weiss, “From the first time we meet a patient until they’re back to their full recovery, we are with them at every step.” Kaye says this approach was both unexpected and impressive. “Everything about it just blew me away,” including the surprise phone call she received from Dr. Weiss the night before her surgery to ask if she had any unanswered questions.

Dr. Weiss performed Kaye’s surgery in the hospital, however, many total joint replacements are done as outpatient procedures. When she woke out of the anesthesia, she immediately noticed that her old knee pain was gone. Once home after a night in the hospital, Kaye was surprised that by the following day, her knee felt strong enough to walk up the stairs to take a shower. She had three follow-up appointments at two weeks, six weeks and 90 days for Dr. Weiss to check on her progress.

No More Pain

As Dr. Weiss prescribed, Kaye committed herself to physical therapy after surgery. Her twice-a-week sessions included exercises to strengthen her entire leg, increase her extension and flexibility and improve her balance and posture. Today, she proudly—and without pain—walks about 8,000 steps a day and leg-presses 150 pounds three times a week. That commitment is what allowed her to achieve “every goal that she laid out for herself, including her anniversary trip,” he says.

When your hip or knee pain begins to significantly hinder your daily life, Dr. Weiss says that’s when you should see an orthopedic surgeon, who can discuss all of your treatment options, including total joint replacement. Kaye agrees, having already referred two friends to Dr. Weiss, knowing he’s the one who can help them once again experience life without pain.

Want to learn more about Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute Orthopedics & Sports Medicine? Visit online here.