Orthopedics Mar 26, 2018

A Battle Against Knee Pain That Started 25 Years Ago

Knee replacement surgery helped Michael get back to work and start enjoying life again

Michael, a patient at the Musculoskeletal Institute, sits in a chair and smiles into the camera.

Michael is a man of many trades and talents, he’s worked in more industries than he admits he can even keep track of. From curbing installation, bridge construction, commercial shell fishing, power plant operations, coffee shops, bakeries and he has even won some awards working in the music industry right here in Austin, TX. It seems as though he’s done and seen it all.

As man who has earned an honest living from hard work throughout his entire career, suffering from debilitating pain in his right knee really hindered his quality of life. “I’ve been single-handedly working on building a barn made of structured steel,” explains Michael, “I do all of the painting and staining, it’s really a lot of work. The pain and swelling in my knee had gotten so bad that I kept having to take time off to recover before getting back on the job.”

This wasn’t Michael’s first health encounter with his right knee; his battle with knee pain actually started over 25 years ago when he slipped on a patch of ice working and tore his ACL. “I went and had orthoscopic surgery to fix it but about a year later the knee pain reoccurred and I had to go back in for major surgery to repair it again,” he said.

After two surgeries he explained that his knee seemed to be ok for nearly 20 years. He was able to work and enjoy life, but with age and the constant wear and tear on his body that came with his line of work, his knee joint began to develop extreme osteoarthritis. “I was suffering from constant pain and swelling and was going in to the doctor to have the fluid removed from my knee up to four times a year just so I could stand the pain,” said Michael. “As the years went on the pain just continued to get worse.”

Eventually, even walking became unbearable, and Michael who once was able to work in labor intensive jobs without question, became extremely depressed. “I didn’t have health insurance,” he said, “I just didn’t know what to do, but I knew I needed help and I had to try.”

There was a two-year waiting list to get orthopedic surgery through the care provider he was seeing when they referred him to UT Health Austin’s Musculoskeletal Institute. His first appointment was an evaluation with a team of orthopedic specialists, including orthopedic surgeon Karl Koenig, MD, and associate provider Devin Williams.

“Devin was honest and real with me and I really liked that. He told me to quit smoking for one month and come back and they would get my knee taken care of,” said Michael. After he was able to quit smoking he went back for reevaluation and within days his surgery was scheduled for August 2017. “I’m so grateful, you have no idea,” he said. “I never had to wait for an appointment here, it was amazing.”

Michael underwent a full knee replacement surgery and from his prior experience, he knew how hard he was going to have to work in physical therapy to regain strength and mobility. “I had done this before, so I knew what to expect,” he said. “Within a month or so after the surgery I was already back to the physical condition where I could climb up a ladder without pain, it was superb, honestly unbelievable.”

In the months since his surgery he happily admits to keeping up with his physical therapy and is back to building the barn he had been working on prior to his procedure. “Although the rest of my body is still tired, I have a good leg now and I can work and do what I do to earn a living,” he said.

Michael said that he had never received such personal care with a team of providers from the physicians to the medical assistants that all treated him with such compassion. “I didn’t expect to feel so good,” he mused, “I am actually coming back to UT Health Austin to see Dr. David Ring for evaluation on my shoulder in the upcoming months!”

To learn more about UT Health Austin’s Musculoskeletal Institute or to make an appointment, call 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737) or visit here.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.