A family friend of mine had been overweight since she was a child, and had several knee injuries during her life, which caused a severe loss of cartilage in both of her knees. She used to experience a lot of pain in her right knee and was told by an orthopedic doctor that she should lose 100 pounds, take a bunch of medication, the names of which I can’t remember, and come back when she was in her 60’s because she needed a knee replacement. She was in her late forties at the time.

So she took the recommended medications and began a walking program, and the knee pain actually lessened for a while. But a couple of years later, the pain came back and didn’t subside, so she went to another orthopedic doctor and was treated with three injections but they only relieved the pain for three months—not the six to twelve months for which she had hoped. She decided to approach the idea of surgery as a last ditch effort to find relief from this debilitating condition. It was really hard for her to walk and use the stairs because of her knee pain, which then caused her to become even more sedentary and gain weight, a vicious cycle.

While surgery seemed the only option left, she was really scared about complications that could arise from anesthesia, pain, and rejection of the knee by her body. But she found out that the replacement knee would last her up to thirty years and that she was not too young to have her knee replaced so she decided to feel the fear and do it anyway! She had her surgery on a Monday, was walking with a walker by that afternoon, and was released from the hospital by Wednesday evening. She can now walk up a flight of stairs without pain, without clinging to the railing, and while carrying things such as shopping bags. She has even resumed all her normal activities, including walking two miles each morning on her treadmill and being on her feet all day at work.

It has been a couple of years since her surgery and she did feel that life after knee replacement was a bit strange at first. She said it was amazing for her to look at her knee and imagine titanium supporting her instead of bone! And more amazingly to not feel the pain that she had experienced for so long before her surgery. She could support her weight on the knee just hours after surgery, so it was well worth it.

When I asked her what words of wisdom she would share with others who were experiencing severe knee pain, she said that no matter what the GP may say, you are not too young or too heavy to have knee replacement surgery, and you certainly don’t have to live with the pain for several years.

Replacement knees have improved tremendously, and hospitals have knee replacement down to a science, so there is no reason not to live your life to the fullest by regaining your mobility and eliminating your pain. I think that says it all!