Rick Estenson


Rick Estenson has youth in his favor . . . six times over.

Rick has osteoarthritis. He’s had three joints replaced, and is planning for three more in the coming years.

For his latest surgery, Rick’s longtime orthopedic surgeon Bob Shepley, MD introduced him to surgeon Hans Bengtson, MD.

Dr. Shepley replaced both of Rick’s knees a few years back, starting when Rick was 57. Now, just months from Dr. Shepley’s retirement, “he looked at my x-rays and said, ‘You’re going to have all four of your other joints done over the next several years. This is a Hans Bengtson hand-off,’” Rick recalls.

Rick had built up a lot of trust in Dr. Shepley over the years. Although he hadn’t met Dr. Bengtson, “I saw him grow up in Northfield, watched him play football and basketball, and I knew he had been practicing [orthopedics] for a while, so it was a very comfortable introduction,” Rick says.

“Both Dr. Shepley and Dr. Bengtson have great skills of listening to my concerns, assessing my situation and showing it to me on x-rays, then offering good advice,” Rick adds. “Even on the day of surgery and in follow up, Dr. Bengtson was really good at explaining what’s happening and what’s to come. My wife and I both felt really comfortable with the whole experience.”

Dr. Bengtson replaced Rick’s left hip in February; he was back at work a week later, and back up to full speed in time for a European bike trip 14 weeks later.

“I was totally ready for it, no problems whatsoever,” Rick says. “I even walked 15 miles one day in London, and I never would have been able to do that before.”

At home, his new joints mean just a little lifestyle adjustment. Rick’s athlete days are mostly behind him, but he was concerned about taking care of his 10-acre farm – doing chores, moving trailers, hauling tree branches. “I feel like I’ve stepped right back into being able to do a lot of those things,” he says.

Rick’s advice? “Don’t be afraid to have joints replaced while you’re younger. You heal quicker; and staying active keeps good muscle tone and conditioning as you age. Once you stop walking or sleeping because a joint hurts, it has an exponential impact on your health.

“A lot of people think they have to wait until they get closer to retirement,” Rick adds. “For me, it was time when I realized I’m having trouble doing things that I envision as a big part of retirement – like biking, and work on the farm – and I want to be able to do them.”

Retirement? That’s a few years away yet. After all, Rick’s pretty young.