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Abbott Northwestern Hospital

After surgery on both knees, an active lifestyle resumes

Barbara Lambert

It was bad enough when Barbara Lambert had one painful knee to contend with. Then her other knee started to bother her.

Physical therapy and steroid injections to reduce inflammation helped for a while. But before long, she had to give up her daily three-mile walks. Getting in and out of the boat at the family cabin was a challenge. "My whole life slowed down," she recalled. "I have real empathy for people who live with chronic pain."

When she talked to her doctor, the question was not whether to do surgery, but whether to do both knees at the same time. "I had heard horror stories," said Lambert. "Everyone I talked to said they could not imagine doing both knees at once. But I was in so much pain."

Her doctor raised another concern. Lambert previously had had hip replacement surgery. He was worried that repairing one knee at a time would affect her gait. "I would be compensating for the knee that still hurt and that might affect the hip," she said.

Lambert's doctor's office gave her the names of other patients who had had bilateral knee replacement (both knees replaced at once). All said they were happy about their choice. Although still a little apprehensive, Lambert decided to go ahead with bilateral surgery.

When she attended the Joint Replacement Center's pre-surgery class, she discovered she was the only person in the room having bilateral surgery. "There were a lot of oohs and ahhs about that," she said.

Yet, the class calmed many of her fears. The Joint Replacement Center's notebook on preparing for surgery was also helpful. She especially appreciated the instructions on leg strengthening exercises before surgery. "I think this is critical and it really helped my recovery," she said.

While Lambert had some discomfort during her recovery, she was impressed with how well her pain was controlled. This allowed her to participate fully in physical therapy that is so critical to a successful outcome. "They had me walking on the day of surgery," she said.

"Through every stage, I felt I was in good hands at Abbott Northwestern," Lambert said.

Three months after surgery, Lambert has returned to her active lifestyle. "Some days I'm more sore than others, but it doesn't hamper me from doing anything."