For Jack Hoschouer, a 100-mile bike ride is a pretty comfortable trek. Until his knees began to complain. Jack has arthritis in both knees. As the pain worsened, he shifted from running to more biking. He got injections to treat his knees – first cortisone, which fights inflammation, and then viscosupplementation, which lubricates the joint. When it got worse, his wife Aya encouraged him to consider surgery. “I put it off for a long time,” Jack says. “I mean, we’re talking about major surgery.” Jack met with his orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brad Wille, to discuss surgery. Dr. Wille came highly recommended by friends and neighbors who all “universally had positive experiences,” Jack says. “He’s a personable guy who gets stuff done, gives useful information, and takes time to answer my questions.” Dr. Wille replaced Jack’s right knee at Northfield Hospital. Nurses and staff gently got Jack out of bed and walking the same day, he recalls: “I woke up from surgery and took a walk, almost.” When Jack started post-operative rehab at CSMR in Northfield, most of his physical therapy appointments started with a stretching massage, followed by a half hour in CSMR’s gym area for stationary biking and strength exercises. “It wasn’t fun but it’s got to be done, so you grit your teeth and go through it,” Jack shrugs. “It kept getting better; I noticed an improvement week to week, if not day to day.” “Jack is a good example of somebody who was highly motivated to get better, willing to do the hard work that will get a good result,” Dr. Wille says. The convenient location of Northfield Hospital and CSMR makes it easy to stick with the rehab regimen and receive follow-up care from the surgeons. Jack’s no stranger to challenges. As a veteran of the Vietnam War with a long career in the military, Jack has witnessed history unfold firsthand, from the Cold War to the Gulf War. As an athlete, he knows the value of regular, vigorous activity. Jack started physical therapy a week after surgery. He started biking again too, three and a half months after surgery. He was riding 35 miles within five months after surgery. “I can’t walk as fast as I used to, but maybe that’s just because I’m 71 years old now,” Jack laughs. Studies that compare different types of surgeries highlight the value of joint replacement. “It’s traditionally one of the most positive surgeries to affect a person’s quality of life,” Dr. Wille says. Dr. Wille recommends trying other options – medication, injections, physical therapy – before considering surgery. “Often, we tell people there is no urgency in doing a knee replacement until their pain warrants it,” he says.
Jack’s advice? “Do it. If you don’t it’s just going to get worse. When it first began, I was training for a marathon, so I kind of put it down to that for a very long time.” Now Jack’s goal is to ride one of his favorite bike tours next summer. The distance? 100 miles – with a few stops for ice cream.