Published on April 09, 2012

Theresa Welch is now pain-free after total joint replacement

Total knee joint replacement puts Theresa on a pain-free path

Theresa WelchAfter limping through several years with excruciating pain in her right knee, Theresa Welch, then 38, turned for help to Thomas N. Duffy, DO, orthopedic surgeon at Mercy Fitzgerald. Dr. Duffy determined that Welch needed a total knee joint replacement. Only eight short months after surgery, Theresa celebrated her complete and pain-free recovery with several international stars— Mickey, Minnie and Cinderella.

“I went to Disney World with my sisters and all of my nieces and nephews,” Theresa says. “We walked our way through 16-hour days, and I outlasted the little ones!”

Taking Action

Due to Theresa’s young age, joint replacement surgery was not the initial solution. “A joint prosthesis cannot last forever,” Dr. Duffy explains.

Because people are living much longer and more active lives, we often try to postpone surgery with alternative treatments—like anti-inflammatory medicine, physical therapy or injections—and we see how things go.”

In Theresa’s case, alternative treatments worked for one year, but the pain returned and her quality of life declined. It was time for surgery.

Going the Extra Mile

Theresa praises Mercy Fitzgerald’s orthopedic program, including its extensive pre-operative patient education and the team’s compassion. “The doctors and nurses treated me as if I was their only patient,” Theresa says. “I do think that all of the supportive care helped me get up more quickly, walk sooner and work harder toward recovery than I would have otherwise.”

Theresa was also impressed with Mercy Fitzgerald’s rehabilitation program, which she started the day of surgery. “I feel it’s important to show my patients as soon as possible that their new knee moves well and that there’s nothing to fear about recovery,” Dr. Duffy stresses.

Once the physical therapists had Theresa climbing stairs, which required only four days of rehab, Dr. Duffy sent his patient home. And to keep recovery on track, a Mercy Home Health nurse routinely visited Theresa for two weeks. “After my surgery, I was up walking in one day, back home in four days and pain-free almost immediately,” Theresa recalls.

Moving Forward

In addition to Mercy Fitzgerald’s orthopedic team of expert physicians and surgeons, specially trained nurses and certified physical therapists, Theresa’s full and ongoing recovery also ties back to the technologically advanced implants used at the hospital. For total hip joint replacements, Dr. Duffy often selects a recently-approved mobile bearing hip joint that provides tremendous stability and range of motion. For knee joint replacements, Dr. Duffy now works with a gender-specific prosthesis that has an innovative single-radius design and excellent range of motion. “For certain female patients, a gender-specific implant can create a better fit,” Dr. Duffy explains.

These advancements, Dr. Duffy adds, are just the beginning. “Technology for joint replacement is amazing, and it’s getting better every year—which is important for our aging population. The better our technology is, the longer a prosthesis will last.”