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patient success story


New Medical Advancements Helping to Treat Arthritis Pain

By Molly Williams

Louie Tuttle, a retiree from Kirksville, Missouri, knew something was wrong with his knees when the grinding and aching began to limit his daily activities. After a few months of enduring the pain and weakness, he consulted with St. Louis orthopedic surgeon Joseph Williams, M.D. of the Bone and Joint Institute, Inc.

The symptoms that Mr. Tuttle was experiencing are typically found in the advanced stages of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that affects many people as they get older. "In a healthy knee, cartilage covers the ends of bones, creating a cushion between the thigh and shin bones," explained Dr. Williams. "In osteoarthritis, the smooth surfaces become rough and pitted, causing the bones to grind against one another."

In the past, the standard of care for end stage osteoarthritis has been the total knee replacement. But techniques and technology are rapidly evolving, providing new treatment to renew one's quality of life.

Dr. Joseph Williams is one of the few orthopedic experts in the Midwest, working with the partial knee replacement almost on a daily basis. In Louie's case, his osteoarthritis had only worn away the cartilage in one compartment of his joint, the knee containing three compartments. To salvage what he could of Louie's healthy cartilage, Dr. Williams would only have to resurface one section of the knee.

Louie's surgery was scheduled for September of 1998 at St. John's Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

The procedure Dr. Williams performed on Louie, called the Repicci II Unicondylar knee replacement, has many advantages over the traditional total knee replacement. Hospital stays have been cut from 3 to 5 days, expected with a total knee replacement, to a short 24 hour stay. And because the Repicci system is much less invasive than the total replacement, physical therapy is minimal and recovery often much quicker.

Louie and his wife, Sharon, were amazed by this medical advancement. Sharon, a rehab nurse, had her doubts when Dr. Williams told Louie that he could leave the hospital the morning after the surgery if he felt he was ready. But she assures that, "Louie got along fine." And within two weeks, Louie was back to driving his car and walking with relative comfort.

After 50 years of carpentry, Louie found his work had become something of a passion. Today he can still very often be found in his garage woodworking. His projects include desks, nightstands, free standing porch swings, Christmas decorations, a wishing well, a lighthouse and numerous other accomplishments.

When asked if the couple were happy overall with Dr. Williams and the procedure, they both answered an emphatic, "yes." "Dr. Williams is a very caring person and we appreciate everything he has done for us," Sharon said. "He is very professional and tells you straightforward, no beating around the bush. He wants to help you have a better quality of life!"

Like Louie, many people around the world are now benefiting from this unique approach to treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.