Published on October 10, 2016

One successful joint replacement leads to another

Mary Lucas hasn’t felt this good in years.

“Absolutely amazing” is how she describes her life today.

Mary LucasThings were much different just a few years ago. Mary was living with constant knee pain.

“I didn’t even go out of the house, because I couldn’t,” she says. That was before Mary had knee replacement surgery and outpatient physical rehabilitation therapy at Nazareth Hospital. It went so well that she chose Nazareth again when she needed a painful hip replaced.

A bad accident sets the stage

Mary says her knee problem began on a wintry February day in 1986. She was on her way home from a job interview at the corner of 21st and Market streets when a snowplow slammed into her side. The accident mangled her knee and left Mary in a full-body cast.

Fast forward to about five years ago. By now, Mary had arthritis in that knee. Eventually, pain and stiffness kept her from cooking, cleaning, even attending church activities. Steroid shots and pain pills stopped bringing relief. Some days she needed help even getting dressed.

“Just to even turn over in the bed at night woke me up,” Mary says. “I had to use a walker to go anywhere.”

Finally, Mary had had enough.

In 2014, she underwent total knee replacement with surgeon William V. Arnold, MD, PhD, a joint specialist at the Rothman Institute at Nazareth.

“Between him and God, it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” she says. Right away she felt free from the bone-on-bone pain.

Next up: A hip goes bad

Mary LucasAfter three months of physical therapy at Nazareth, Mary was getting back to her old self. Until progressive pain struck her left hip. “When I tried to take a step, it was just as bad as the knee pain,” she says.

Follow-up tests revealed a damaged hip that needed to be replaced. In 2016, Mary had hip surgery with Dr. Arnold, followed again by physical therapy.

Having a second surgery at Nazareth was an easy decision. Her first was a complete success. And she was treated with such respect and compassion.

“They made me feel like I was top priority every day,” she says.

A new beginning

Mary’s joints no longer hurt all the time.

“I can do my exercises,” she says. “I can walk up and down the steps without having to hop on one foot. I can go shopping and to the movies. I’m back to my church activities. I can cook a meal for my family.”

Her weight has come down as a result of being able to walk pain-free, along with a better diet. She sleeps better too now that her sleep apnea has improved. Mary also credits Kristina Oplinger, PT, DPT, and the rest of her physical therapy team at Nazareth Hospital for giving her “such hope.”

“They would say, ‘You’re going to be all right, Mary. Just watch and see,’” she recalls.

Mary also deserves credit for sticking to her rehab program and her home exercises. “She came to therapy consistently,” Oplinger says. Today when people bring up the subject of joint replacement surgery, Mary tells them about how it has made such a difference in her world not once—but twice.

“It is so good to have my life back and to not be in excruciating pain 24 hours a day,” she says.

After joint replacement, rehab is the right move

After total joint replacement surgery, your next stop should be the Nazareth Center for Physical Therapy, Rehabilitation and Balance.

Outpatient physical therapy can help you get the best results from your joint surgery, as well as a smoother recovery. In joint rehabilitation, you will work with a physical therapy team. They will teach you exercises and stretches to improve your motion and strength.

Your treatment will be tailored just for you. This means that your exercises are designed to help you be able to do the specific activities that matter most to you. For example, maybe your goal is to return to work or walk without a cane.

“It depends on your goals and what you want to get back to doing,” says Senior Physical Therapist Kristina Oplinger, PT, DPT.

Your physical therapy team will help guide you on your journey back to being you.