Knees aren’t replaced only re-surfaced.

X-ray image of both knees

The one on your right is the bad knee, and the one on your left is the knee that needed to be resurfaced due to wear and tear.

My partner in life, my spouse, my husband using the word to mean that we husband each other, that we take care of each other, has spent several years hobbling from chair to chair. He used narcotic painkillers whenever available to enable him to function. I say whenever available because the Grand Old Party of the Republic in its war on people has made it increasingly difficult for humans living in pain to find relief.

Lynn’s left knee was crushed in a motorcycle car collision in January 1985. That Lynn lived is due to an incredible string on circumstances beginning with an ambulance crew being parked near where Lynn came to a stop, a trauma center nearby and a vascular surgeon on duty in the emergency room.

X-ray image of knee joint

If you look closely you can see the scar lines where the individual pieces healed back together.

Lynn lived with this knee and a leg length disparity of 2 inches from 1985 until, well today. He couldn’t bring himself to give up and embrace his disability with a Frankenstein boot so with every step he lifted his body weight 2 inches. After 27 years of this abuse Lynn wore through the cartilage of his right knee. Now this isn’t something with a clearly defined end point but by the time of Lynn’s surgery bone spurs had grown our from his knee to form a crown of bony points poking into the skin around his right knee cap. In October of 2010 Lynn was on track to have his right knee repaired but I chose that time to finish off my right shoulder and I required immediate surgery to retain the use of my arm and minimize my chances of dieing from fat embolisms or cut arteries. So Lynn had to wait.

X-ray image of Lynn's resurfaced right knee.

This is what a new knee looks like when it’s all done. This is the same view point as the original equipment left knee. The metal pieces are outlined clearly,, the bone appears as shadows and the plastic wear piece is totally invisible.

This is the result of Lynn’s knee resurfacing surgery. The surgery went well even though Lynn’s clinically obese. In his favor was a winter spent exercising at Planet Fitness doing as much as he could to build up muscle strength and flexibility. The down side was the disparity in leg length, and this was worsened by the surgery. Lynn is bow legged and the knee resurfacing surgery has the net effect of straightening the leg and increasing the difference in leg length to 2 1/2 inches.

If you really want to see how this work is performed, there is a YouTube video of a class demonstration. If you are contemplating this surgery you really need to decide whether or not you want to know all of the details. Many people prefer to take the “And then a miracle occurred” frame of mind. But if you don’t mind seeing the leg of a used body, power tools, and hand tools you will understand just why your new knee hurts so much after the surgery. I have learned over the years or more accurately over the many hospitalizations I’ve required that knowledge helps take the edge off the pain and that fear of the unknown is the most painful of all.

About Art

55 years old. By training, ability and experience I am a master toolmaker. My most recent projects include designing and building a process to grind a G rotor pump shaft with four diameters and holding all four diameters within plus or minus 4 microns of nominal. This was an automated process using two centerless grinders refitted to my specifications using automatic load and unload machines plus automatic feedback gauging. I also designed and built an inspection machine to check for the presence and size of a straight knurl on a hinge pin using a vision system for non-contact gauging.
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3 Responses to Knees aren’t replaced only re-surfaced.

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