A woman who struggled to take her son on a short walk to school has celebrated the success of a partial knee replacement by reaching the summit of Mount Snowdon with him for his eighth birthday.
Carrie Pearl, aged 34 and from Fullers Slade, was crippled with arthritic pain in her right knee and found walking for more than a couple of minutes exhausting and struggled to play with her children.
But after a partial replacement of her kneecap (patellofemoral joint) by consultant surgeon Julian Flynn, at BMI Saxon Clinic, she is not only able to do the school run more comfortably, she has also proved she can scale mountains. The whole operation done under a spinal anaesthetic.
Carrie had already had left knee surgery in 2010 for a similar problem but found that her right knee became even more painful and stiff. By the time she had surgery in June last year, she could hardly bend the joint, making life as a parent very difficult.
Carrie said: “My right knee started to hurt really badly and after putting up with it for a few months I found that I could barely bend it - stairs were a nightmare. I couldn’t play on the floor with my kids as I couldn’t get up without terrible pain or getting stuck, and I couldn’t play outdoors with them or walk for more than a couple of minutes without being in agony.
“In the end, I insisted that my GP referred me for a scan on the joint. X-rays and a scan made it clear that there was a problem. I was able to see Mr Julian Flynn, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at BMI The Saxon Clinic. Given the severity of damage, Mr Flynn felt that a partial knee replacement would provide the most reliable improvement in pain.
“I was amazed to discover he was going to do the operation whilst I was awake and that was a bit nerve racking, but the anaesthetist who performed the spinal injection and the theatre team were amazing: really reassuring and caring and I was very comfortable throughout.”
Mr Flynn said: “Carrie’s knee had deteriorated to the point where she couldn’t bend it more than 30 degrees, so stairs and slopes or hills were very difficult for her to negotiate. It made life as a busy parent with young children not only difficult, but also very painful.
“She felt she couldn’t carry on like that as it was severely impacting her quality of life. Having reviewed the scans, it was clear that she would need a knee joint replacement because the joint was so badly affected by arthritis. Having a partial knee replacement rather than a total knee replacement has enabled her to preserve as much function as possible whilst abolishing her pain.
“It’s great to carry out these operations under spinal anaesthetic because it reduces the impact for patients and means we avoid the risks of general anaesthetics: it is important for patients not to be anesthetised for longer, or more often, than is necessary.”
Carrie said: “After the operation I had the most fantastic physio at BMI The Saxon Clinic who helped me focus on what I needed to do to get back to mobility. Within a few weeks, I was able to walk around one of our local lakes and, after a couple of months, I was walking without sticks.
“As I started to get better, I was able to do more with the kids and spend more time enjoying the outdoors, walking and so on. It was fantastic to be able to get out and about without being in agony and to be able to do the ten minute walk to school in ten minutes rather than half an hour. My kids loved the fact that I was able to do ‘normal’ things again and we started to do more and more outdoor activities.
“My son has been desperate to walk up Mount Snowdon but there was no way I could consider it before I had my knee replaced. As I started to get better and was able to do more, he began asking if we could do it for his 8th birthday.
“I was pretty nervous about doing it to be honest but I was absolutely determined to finish and prove that I could get there. It was such an exhilarating feeling to reach the top and great to be able to do it with my son.
“There’s no way I could’ve done that without Mr Flynn’s help and my new kneecap.”