KO Knee Pain

Center eases surgical process for joint replacement patients.

While preparing for Hurricane Irma in 2017, Dawn Lacey could barely climb the ladder to install her storm shutters due to nagging pain in her left knee. At the time, the retired UPS® driver shrugged off her knee problem, but it grew increasingly worse until last fall, when the pain became so intense, she could no longer bear it.

Dawn Lacey underwent knee replacement surgery by Dr. Vance Askins and spent time in The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in Bradenton.

Surgery alleviated Dawn’s
nagging left knee pain

“My knee began swelling every day, and it became a nuisance,” recounts the New Jersey native. “I didn’t injure it. I think it got bad from a lifetime of athletics and working the way I did. It buckled and gave out on me once in a while. I couldn’t sleep at night because of the pain, which was both aching, and sharp and stabbing. From one to ten, the pain rated an eight or nine on some days.

“I rested my knee and put ice on it every night, hoping the pain would subside, but that didn’t help. I like to golf and walk five miles every day, and I continued to walk through the pain, but I had to stop golfing because it was extremely painful to swing the clubs.”

Once Dawn’s knee pain began interfering with her golf game, her quality of life quickly diminished. It was then that she finally decided to seek help for her knee pain and made an appointment with her primary care physician, who ordered x-rays and an MRI of her knee.

“My doctor did the initial tests and said I had a torn meniscus and really bad arthritis in my knee,” Dawn shares. “He suggested I visit an orthopaedic surgeon and recommended Dr. Askins. I researched Dr. Askins and discovered he was highly regarded in his field, so I went to see him.”

Vance Askins, MD, of Askins Orthopaedics is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon. A primary focus of his practice is joint replacement surgery, including hip and knee replacements. Dr. Askins performs his surgeries at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in Bradenton.

When Dawn met with Dr. Askins, she was impressed by his knowledge and manner. She was taken aback, however, by the surgeon’s conclusion after his evaluation of her knee and review of her MRI.

“My primary care doctor forwarded my test results, so Dr. Askins had all of my information,” Dawn states. “I thought I was going to need some type of arthroscopic surgery, if that, but instead, I got the shock of my life. Dr. Askins told me I needed a totally new knee.”

“Dawn suffered with ongoing arthritis in her left knee,” Dr. Askins notes. “She failed all conservative measures to treat her pain, including anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. She also wasn’t a candidate for an outpatient arthroscopic procedure, which wouldn’t adequately address her condition.

“Arthroscopic procedures help with pain, but they don’t stop the arthritis. They simply treat its symptoms for a period of time. An arthroscopic surgery wouldn’t change the fact that Dawn would eventually need a new knee joint.”

Because Dawn is still young, she’s 61, and her quality of life was being negatively affected, she and Dr. Askins agreed that a total joint replacement was appropriate in her case. Her surgery was performed on October 16, 2018.

“Well-Oiled Machine”

At Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, Dr. Askins’ joint replacement patients participate in the education and treatment program offered through the hospital’s Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center. The Center’s program includes a preoperative class, support throughout the surgical process and recovery in the Center itself.

“The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center staff does an excellent job of education,” Dr. Askins reports. “The pre-op class makes the surgical process more endurable for patients because it gives them insights into what to expect of their post-op care, as well as what’s expected of them. It takes a great deal of anxiety out of the experience.”

After surgery, patients are taken directly to The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center, a 21-bed unit at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center dedicated to orthopaedic patients. At the Center, they begin rehabilitation of their new joints right away.

“As soon as I woke up after surgery, the nurses wanted me to eat something to get my strength back,” Dawn remembers. “They got me up that afternoon. The next day, I had therapy in the morning and again in the afternoon.

“This was a very big surgery for me, but the staff at The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center helped me through it. They operated like a well-oiled machine.”

Everyone associated with The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center follows established protocols for caring for joint replacement patients.

“From the pre-op testing to the OR to post-op recovery in the Center, everybody on staff, including the nurses and therapists, works in coordination to prepare the patients for going home or to rehab,”
Dr. Askins points out. “The case managers in the Center do a great job of coordinating patients’ home care, so there’s never a gap when they get home.

“Surgery is only one piece of the process. The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center staff performs the key pre-op and post-op measures to ensure my patients have the best outcomes.”

Prevailing Over Pain

Dawn began rehabbing her new knee in The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center soon after her surgery. With the help of her orthopaedic surgeon and the attentiveness of Center staff, Dawn says she wasn’t in much pain, nor is she now as she continues her rehab at home.

“Dr. Askins placed these little painkiller beads in my knee before he closed my surgical incision,” Dawn describes. “When I put pressure on my knee, the beads released and gave me pain relief. That enabled me to start my rehab without intolerable pain.

“My pain level as I rehab now is nothing like it was before my surgery. It used to be an eight or nine. Now, it’s a two on a bad day.”

Dr. Askins reports that Dawn is making good progress and meeting the recovery goals she set for herself, which include returning to the golf course and resuming her daily, five-mile walks.

Dawn knows she must exercise consistently and ice and massage her knee to meet those goals, and happily reports she is starting to turn the corner toward achieving those objectives.

“I’m able to walk, although I’m not walking five miles just yet. I’m working up to that,” she relates. “I’m not golfing yet either, but I think that’s more of a mind over matter thing with me. I’m still afraid to swing the club. Once I conquer walking, I’ll get back out on the golf course.

“I definitely recommend Dr. Askins and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. For a big surgery, the whole process, from my preadmission through surgery and my stay in The Orthopaedic Spine and Joint Center, was a good experience for me.”

Print This Article