Healthy You - Every Day

Partial Repair + Physical Therapy = Full Recovery

Michell Ressler suffered from knee pain for over 40 years. When she could no longer walk and take care of her small farm, she turned to Lehigh Valley Health Network for help

Michell Ressler was no stranger to knee pain. The East Stroudsburg native struggled with knee pain since she was involved in an accident as a teenager. “Back then, we just didn’t do the type of surgical procedures that we do now. It has just been something that I had to deal with,” Ressler says.

Finally, last year Ressler acknowledged that her knee pain was beginning to keep her from everyday activities that she normally enjoyed, such as taking care of her horses and small farm. She made an appointment with orthopedic surgeon Wayne Luchetti, MD, with LVPG Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute.

Luchetti told Ressler that based on her physical exam and imaging studies, she was a candidate for a knee replacement. Ressler was reluctant to do the surgery and chose to first try conservative treatments including physical therapy and cortisone injections. However, within a few months her knee gave out and she was unable to walk. “I knew that at that point surgery was really the only way I was going to get control of my life again,” she said.

Partial repair with full results

One reason that Ressler was hesitant to have knee replacement surgery was because of the recovery time. “I just couldn’t imagine being off my feet for months. I need to take care of my horses and animals. They depend on me,” she says.

Fortunately, Luchetti offered Ressler a solution – a partial knee replacement. “A partial knee replacement is performed through a smaller incision, is more minimally invasive and is therefore a much quicker recovery. Unlike a total knee replacement, only the inner side of the knee is replaced, and patients get to keep all their original ligaments,” says Luchetti.

Ressler says she was pleasantly surprised with the surgery. She stayed in the hospital one night after the procedure and then was sent home to begin outpatient rehabilitation. She says she had a great experience in the hospital and her only regret was not having the surgery sooner.

“I look back and really wish I would have done this sooner. I always tell people, don’t put this type of thing off. You’ll regret it,” she says.

An aggressive goal

After surgery, Ressler was focused on her recovery. She began physical therapy just three days after surgery and at that time told her physical therapy team that she wanted to be fully mobile within six weeks.

“They told me it was an aggressive goal, but possible so I just focused on the fact that it was possible,” says Ressler.

Physical therapist Richard Martinetti, Rehabilitation Manager at Rehabilitation Services–Brodheadsville, worked with Ressler multiple times per week throughout her recovery. He says the goal of physical therapy following a partial knee replacement is to restore muscle function and strength while improving overall functional mobility. He guided Ressler through a progressive exercise program specifically designed for her to meet her personal goals.

He was impressed with Ressler’s persistence. “Once she was able to walk with a more normal pattern, she couldn’t be slowed down. She is self-motivated and goal-oriented. She wanted to be back riding her horses ASAP,” Martinetti says.

“I don’t know that people give physical therapy enough credit. Without physical therapy, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today.” - Michell Ressler

True to her word, Ressler was fully mobile within just six weeks of her surgery and credits her physical therapy team for helping her recover so quickly. “I learned a lot from my time in physical therapy. You definitely get what you put into it,” Ressler says.

A minor setback

While she was on the mend from her partial knee replacement, she began to experience ankle pain. This time, she didn’t hesitate to make an appointment with Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute. Imaging studies showed that she had ankle arthritis and she was referred to physical therapy.

Martinetti wasn’t surprised to see her back for ankle issues. “It was clear that Michell had been walking with an altered gait pattern for months or even years before her surgery. She was compensating because of pain, which is typical with many knee replacement patients,” he says.

The focus of Ressler’s physical therapy was centered on correcting her gait, especially as she navigated stairs and building muscle. She was impressed with the results. Within weeks, she was able to feel a difference.

Ressler says physical therapy was the key to her recovery. “I don’t know that people give physical therapy enough credit. Without physical therapy, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today,” she says.

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

Lehigh Valley Orthopedic Institute

The region’s leader in joint, spine and orthopedic care gets you moving again.

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