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Mary Doctor

From debilitating knee pain to conquering trails again, Mary Doctor's inspiring journey through surgery and rehabilitation showcases the power of perseverance and expert care.

Mary Doctor's passion for traveling and hiking international trails hit a major bump when an old hamstring injury caused trouble with her right knee, slowing her down.

Navigating the Valleys of Life

Mary is an active member of the Gastonia community with her commitment to fitness and well-being as she previously owned a gym, the Armstrong Athletic Club. Back in 2012, her trainer had noticed that when she would do exercises such as walking lunges, her knee would cave into the inside instead of straight ahead. Attempts to correct this only resulted in more pain, indicating an underlying problem.

Mary was encouraged to pursue orthopedic evaluation and the initial X-rays showed healthy cartilage in Mary's knee. However, fast-forward to 2021 when Mary was on a hiking trip in Iceland - she realized that she could not get out of bed the day after their first hike.

Read more About Hip & Knee Pain and why it kept Mary from getting out of bed.

Bridging the Gap with Knee Replacement

When she got back to the States, Dr. Ranjan Maitra, an acquaintance of Mary's for over 20 years, noted that this time, her x-rays showed that the cartilage in her knee was wearing out and they would need to do a knee replacement. He diagnosed her with severe degeneration, known as "bone on bone," in her right knee.

This means that the cartilage, which normally acts as a cushion between the bones in the knee joint, has worn away significantly. Without this cartilage, the bones in the knee are rubbing directly against each other, causing pain, stiffness, and difficulty moving. This condition often results from arthritis or long-term wear and tear on the joint.

The Blaze of Total Knee Replacement Procedure

A knee replacement is a common procedure in America, with 600,000 to 800,000 surgeries performed each year. During the surgery, the knee joint is exposed, and all cartilage surfaces are removed from the ends of the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone). These surfaces are then replaced with artificial ones, and a spacer or bushing is inserted to allow the knee to glide and bend smoothly.

This procedure helps to resolve pain and improve knee function. There's a lot of physical therapy needed due to the knee stiffness resulting from this kind of surgery. Regular physical therapy (PT) is important, and patients can expect to see improvement in initial symptoms prior to surgery around 3 months postoperatively.

This is the cemented SIGMA knee with the AOX poly, the exact one Mary has.

Dr. Maitra explains, "The goal when performing surgery is to have a well-fixed component, ensure good alignment of the leg, and achieve a balanced range of motion. The knee has to flex and extend, bend and straighten, and maintain balance throughout that whole range of motion."

The Switchbacks from Rehab

After her surgery, Mary did not realize the tribulations that the first few weeks would present. However, by the six-week mark, she saw a big improvement as she worked very hard at physical therapy. It usually takes 2-3 months before the shape of a knee cap can be seen again as the swelling goes down.

Mary's Trail Triumph

Now, Mary is back working out with her trainer and seamlessly combines using the rowing machine and leg pressing 360 pounds, doing what she needs to do. Her new knee functions exceptionally well, allowing her to resume hiking and return to her lifestyle.

"Dr. Maitra welcomed my questions and was always willing to explain the things I didn't understand. And the knee is fabulous!" - Mary Doctor


Check out our exclusive video interview to hear about Mary's journey with a knee replacement. 

If you're experiencing pain and would like to visit an OrthoCarolina location near you, click here to schedule an appointment.

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