Full Swing: A Patient’s Recovery Story from Hand and Knee Surgery

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An avid tennis player and golfer, Richard Zenker could feel his nagging wrist pain slowing him down.

“I would hit a tennis shot and experience intense pain in my wrist, forcing me to wait a few minutes before trying again,” explained Richard.

He found himself in hand, wrist and elbow surgeon Dr. David Wei’s office after hearing about ONS from friends.

“He made me feel like I was the only person in the world,” remembered Richard.

Dr. David Wei diagnosed Richard with a triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) injury and performed a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to clean up the damaged tissue in his hand.

After a full recovery, Richard was able to get back to his recreational sports but soon tennis became painful again.

This time, Richard sought out Dr. Kevin Choo, adult reconstruction and joint replacement surgeon, for pain in both knees.

He had tried other treatments in the past, such as gel injections, to no avail. When Dr. Choo recommended a total knee replacement, Richard knew this was the right next step for him. Specifically, Dr. Choo thought a cementless implant would be best, due to Richard’s age and desire to resume his active lifestyle.

Typically, in standard knee replacements, the implant is secured using bone cement. Unfortunately, over time, the cement may start to loosen. Cementless implants have a porous design that allows the bone to grow directly into the implant, if the bone is strong enough to tolerate it. This allows for the possibility of a longer life of the implant – ideal for active people like Richard.

“I had previously been told that when you can no longer do what you want to do, it’s time to think about a replacement. ONS surgeons have a different view and I was asked ‘At what age do you want to have your best knees?’,” said Richard, who was approaching 65 years of age.

“I knew I wanted a new knee for my birthday.”

Like Dr. Wei, Dr. Choo was very clear and thorough explaining the surgery and recovery. “He alleviated my concerns immediately which included being reassured that the technology is currently good enough to get me back to using this knee, and also that it could be done safely in an outpatient environment,” said Richard.

In July 2021, Richard underwent an outpatient total knee replacement at ONS’ ambulatory surgery center.

“Of course, I felt the usual nervousness that morning, but I was excited to get this done” said Richard, who shared that everyone he experienced on surgical day was kind, professional and compassionate.

The surgery was a success and Richard was able to return home the same day, where he did physical therapy for the next two weeks.

“The level of care that both Drs. Wei and Choo showed me was noteworthy,” said Richard who mentioned that both called him personally after he was discharged and were very responsive to all questions he had. He also stayed in close contact with Tori Kroll, RN, joint replacement case manager at ONS, who assisted during his recovery. He returned to all sporting activities after three months.

To anyone who may be putting off surgery for severe knee pain, Richard advises not to fear it or wait. “It’s a much more convenient procedure than it’s ever been,” he said, explaining that friends who had knee replacements in the past were impressed at how smooth his experience was.

Richard is planning to schedule his next knee replacement this year. “My other knee is getting jealous of my healed knee!”