Out with the Old, In with the New

Leading-edge replacement procedure corrects painful joint condition.

For more than 30 years, Chris Hill was at the forefront of the effort to provide clean drinking water to residents in and around the state of Florida. Were it not for his aching knees, the 64-year-old might still be at the forefront of that effort even today.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Chris says he was “lucky” to have found
Advanced Orthopedic Center.

“I had been self-employed since 1988 as a mechanical contractor,” Chris explains. “I designed, built, operated and serviced reverse osmosis water treatment systems – everything from the little ones that go under your sink to the massive municipal plants.

“The systems I worked with are the kind that primarily remove salt from water and make it drinkable. It’s a technology that’s been around for years, so I was really just a small player in a big boy’s game. I was until I was forced to retire.”

The knee problems that forced Chris’ retirement began at birth, when he was born with slightly bowed tibia bones. The condition was never corrected, and beginning in his teenage years, the bow in his legs began to put unusual pressure on his knees.

Nevertheless, Chris was quite active and very athletic during his youth. He played lacrosse, football and soccer while in high school and was good enough to earn a scholarship to continue playing soccer in college.

Early in his college career, Chris suffered a right knee injury so severe that he was advised by doctors to give up sports entirely or face the possibility of never walking normally should he suffer another injury of its kind.

Chris heeded the doctor’s advice and abandoned his soccer career, but from that point on, knee pain became a constant companion. In time, arthritis set in, and the warning that the unusual stress on his knees might keep him from walking normally became a reality.

“I carried the knee pain for more than thirty years,” Chris reveals. “My right knee was always the worst of the two, but when my left knee started to go a couple of years ago, I could barely walk. Just standing in place for thirty seconds was a problem for me.”

Certain that he needed replacement surgery on both knees, Chris began searching for an experienced doctor with access to the latest technology to do the work. He found exactly that in Nicholas Connors, MD, at Advanced Orthopedic Center.

“Dr. Connors had done a knee replacement for a close friend of mine who was very pleased with his work and whose advice I valued,” Chris says. “So when I first went to Advanced Orthopedic Center, I asked for
Dr. Connors specifically.

“When I met him, I remember thinking to myself, Boy, did I get lucky.

Modern Times

Chris was lucky indeed, because Dr. Connors now specializes in a state-of-the-art surgical replacement procedure that he was the first to perform in Charlotte County called Mako robotic-arm assisted complete knee replacement surgery.

Considered by Dr. Connors to be “the most modern way of doing partial and total knee replacement surgery,” the Mako robotic-arm procedure is an extremely precise operation that results in better-fitting replacement joints that heal faster and last longer.

“The hardest thing about any knee replacement surgery is getting the knee balance exact so that the ligaments and muscles aren’t too tight or too loose,” Dr. Connors educates. “What this procedure allows us to do is get that part of the surgery just right.

“It takes out the human error by using CT-based computer navigation to determine the ligament tightness in the knee. That allows us to get within a millimeter of correct tightness or looseness, which makes the replacement knee joint feel more natural.

“These surgeries have given me my life back. . . . This has truly been a life-changing event for me.” – Chris

“In addition to feeling more natural, the replacement knee joint lasts longer because it’s properly aligned. With proper alignment, you get a more precise balance of ligaments, and with that, you get less stress on the bearing surfaces of the joint.”

By using the Mako robotic-arm procedure, Dr. Connors says patients should get about 25 years of use out of a replacement knee joint. That’s at least ten more years than they could hope to get from a joint implanted through a traditional replacement procedure.

“The take-home message is, if you do this the first time using the computer navigation card and robotic-arm technology, you’re more likely to have it done right,” Dr. Connors emphasizes. “That way, you won’t need to have it done a second time.”

As Good as New

That take-home message was good enough for Chris, who accepted Dr. Connors’ recommendation to have the Mako robotic-arm procedure done on both of his knees, the first of which was replaced last March.

The second was replaced three months later, but Dr. Connors did more than just replace Chris’ ailing knee joints. In the process, he also corrected the severe misalignment of Chris’ knees that was the cause of so much of his pain and discomfort.

“He basically straightened my legs out,” Chris reports. “I still have my curved tibias, but we left those alone because the procedure to correct them would be to break one and straighten it, then wait six months and break the other and straighten it.

“I said No, thanks to that because my knees were really the biggest problem, and now, they feel great. I’m pain free for the first time in thirty years and doing things I haven’t done in a long time, like just walking around the grocery store, things like that.

“I’m telling you, these surgeries have given me my life back. I can go places and walk my dog again. This has truly been a life-changing event for me. That’s why I say I was so fortunate to have found Dr. Connors.

“He’s so knowledgeable and skilled. Like I said, he changed my life, and because of that, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for that man. That’s how much I appreciate what he did for me and how much respect I have for him.”

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    • Advanced Orthopedic Center

      Whether you are a professional or collegiate athlete, an active retiree, a "weekend warrior," a high school football star or a hard-working employee anxious to make a difference, the Advanced Orthopedic Center is here to help you feel better a... Read More

    • Nicholas J. Connors, MD

      Nicholas J. Connors, MD, is a Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon. He has served the community of Charlotte County since 1996. He joined the Advanced Orthopedic Center in 1999. As a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Connors has exte... Read More