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Knee Replacement Surgery

It’s Great Being Back!

Marilyn is a knee replacement patientFor Marilyn Williams, of Franklin, persistent and oftentimes overwhelming knee pain made even the simple task of walking her newly adopted greyhound, Reese, nearly impossible. The 56-year-old realtor said the pain eventually started to affect all areas of her life, including her hobbies and work. It was difficult for her to show properties that involved stairs. She couldn’t perform basic chores. “I was at the point where I wasn’t able to enjoy my life,” she recalls. “I couldn’t even get to the mailbox without hobbling.”

After moving to a new home during which she pushed cardboard boxes with her legs to avoid having to bend and stretch her knees, she says she knew the pain was here to stay… that is, unless she did something about it. Muscle relaxers and physical therapy prescribed by her doctor provided only temporary relief. Once arthroscopic surgery revealed that she had very little cartilage cushioning her knee joint, she was told that knee replacement surgery was likely the only solution to relieve her pain.

Richard D. Mulroy, Jr., MD, FACS, of Mulroy Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine in Milford and chief of orthopedics at Milford Regional, says Marilyn is one of many patients he treats whose knee pain has gone beyond the threshold of tolerance. As a joint replacement specialist, he performs nearly 250 of these surgeries each year at Milford Regional. “A good candidate for the procedure is a patient whose pain, deformity, or disability limits his or her normal activities,” Dr. Mulroy explains. “A patient who has difficulty getting dressed, climbing stairs, going shopping, walking, or kneeling should consider having a knee replacement.”

According to Dr. Mulroy, most of his patients have completely worn out their knee joint, which means they have very little shock absorber (i.e., articular cartilage) between the thigh and shin bones. This lack of cartilage causes inflammation around the knee joint, which in turn, causes pain. During knee replacement surgery, Dr. Mulroy reshapes the end of each bone and places a new smooth coating in between to restore mobility and functionality.

Marilyn first heard about Dr. Mulroy by word of mouth through her doctor. In fact, her doctor told her that his own father chose Dr. Mulroy as his surgeon for a knee replacement. “All of a sudden, I was sitting up and paying attention,” she says, adding that Dr. Mulroy’s credentials and professional training also made him stand out in her mind.

Dr. Mulroy’s fellowship training under William H. Harris, MD, a world renowned hip surgeon at Mass General Hospital in Boston prepared him for the top-rate care he provides to his patients. “It was an opportunity to work with the best surgeon in the world,” he points out, “and to operate and develop skills related to the most challenging cases.” Dr. Mulroy also worked in the research lab designing joint replacements and procedures that surgeons continue to use today.

Marilyn immediately felt comfortable with Dr. Mulroy when she met him for an initial consultation. “I decided when I met Dr. Mulroy that it was all going to be fine,” she recollects. “I had that kind of confidence in him. He put me at ease and was very good about answering my questions.”

Dr. Mulroy’s patients—many of whom have traveled from as far away as Maine, Vermont, Cape Cod, and Pennsylvania— benefit from a thorough discussion on their unique surgical options. He also takes the time to discuss risks and complications and explains how Milford Regional reduces those risks.

Marilyn says she chose Milford Regional partially because she knew she wanted Dr. Mulroy to perform her surgery and partially because of the hospital’s excellent reputation and proximity to her home. “I liked the idea of being local. It’s very disruptive to be that far away from home,” she says, adding that she also sought attentive care and didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle of a larger hospital.

While in the hospital, Marilyn remembers the incredibly sympathetic and attentive care from the nursing staff who checked on her frequently to make sure she was comfortable and to give her pain medication when needed. “I thought the pain management was really well done,” she notes. “It was just a really pleasant experience the whole way through—from the minute you hit the front door, everybody was really nice.”

The physical therapists were equally as caring and compassionate. They visited her immediately after surgery to introduce themselves and came back the next day to start her exercises. Two days after the surgery, Marilyn was walking up and down the hallway using a walker. “They knew how far to push,” she recalls, noting their sensitivity to her weakened state and initial limitations. The therapists also gave Marilyn a device to more easily lift her leg and help her get in and out of bed while in the hospital and for several weeks after going home.

Once home, Milford Regional’s physical therapists from the VNA and Hospice of Greater Milford met with her two to three times per week and gave her homework that included strength-building exercises. She fondly recalls one nurse in particular with whom she bonded. “She knew how much to push me, and we laughed more times than you could imagine,” Marilyn reminisces. “She got me through it.”

Today, Marilyn says the sky’s the limit in terms of what she can do. She’s gradually getting back into yoga and gardening, and she walks a different route every day, tracking her steps with a pedometer. “I’ve gotten my life back. I can do what I want to do,” she states with satisfaction. “There’s no reason to go even one mile further than Milford Regional. The talent is there. I can’t say enough good things about the surgeon and the hospital. It was all so easy. I had to do the work to recover, but everything else fell into place.”

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