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A Return to Skiing and Traveling Following Knee Replacement

Last updated: July 17, 2023

Don’t put off having surgery, because you want as many years as possible to experience the good results.

John Appleton, ThedaCare Orthopedic Care Knee Replacement Patient

This past spring, John Appleton traveled to Scotland, enjoying the culture, breathtaking scenery, and walking and hiking up to 10 miles each day.

The feat and experience were all the more remarkable because several weeks prior, John had undergone knee replacement surgery.

“I could handle all the walking fairly easily,” John says. “Prior to knee surgery, there were times I couldn’t walk one mile.”

Choosing Knee Replacement

Rewind a few months, and John was in worse shape. Prior to his knee replacement, he’d been experiencing pain, weakness and instability.

“The instability was my biggest concern,” says John, a Seymour resident.

Beyond that, John, 69, had always enjoyed an active lifestyle that included downhill and cross-country skiing, camping, hiking, biking, and working out on an elliptical machine. His knee pain started to affect his ability to enjoy those activities.

“It was definitely starting to cramp my lifestyle,” John says.

To help with the pain, John tried over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and topical treatments, but he saw little relief. He also considered injections but ultimately decided he wanted to pursue a long-term solution.

“I didn’t want a temporary fix,” he says.

When John decided to explore knee replacement, choosing a doctor became easier with a recommendation from his brother, Pete. He’d had both of his knees replaced with ThedaCare Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. David Liebelt, and he spoke highly of his experience.

 “The best compliment a surgeon or health care system can receive is a patient returning or referring their family for care,” Dr. Liebelt says. “The Appleton brothers are a great example of that.”

After meeting with Dr. Liebelt, John learned that he was suffering from severe arthritis. His cartilage had worn away to the point where he was experiencing bone-on-bone knee pain.

Dr. Liebelt recommended that John have surgery sooner than later.

Deciding to have surgery wasn’t easy, and John says he did have some reservations. He knew that it was a major procedure that carried the risk for complications.

Hearing about the positive outcomes of his brother and some friends who’d had knee replacements helped allay his fears. In February 2023, John had his right knee replaced at ThedaCare Medical Center-Orthopedic, Spine and Pain.

Recovery and Rehab

When the day of the procedure arrived, everything went smoothly. John says he was pleased that the surgery was outpatient and that he could rest and recover from the comfort of his home.

The first couple of weeks brought pain and discomfort, but after that time, John saw steady improvement.

“Once I turned the corner from that, rehab went very well,” he says. “The gain outweighed the pain.”

Following surgery, John completed physical therapy and home exercises to aid in his recovery. Doing PT also helped John regain mobility.  

“The physical therapist walks you through what you should and shouldn’t be doing,” he says.
“They help you do things that you couldn’t do on your own.”

Next Steps

As is the case for many people suffering from knee pain, John had pain in both of his knees. This fall, he’ll undergo knee replacement on his left knee. This time around, he’ll have the benefit of drawing from his own experience.

“The results have been nothing short of spectacular,” he says. “Dr. Liebelt is a great surgeon. I’ve had no issues or setbacks.”

John says he knows that choosing to have a knee replacement is a big decision. To those unsure how to proceed, he offers advice.

“Don’t put off having surgery, because you want as many years as possible to experience the good results,” he says. “You’re never going to be in better shape for your rehab than you are today.”

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Tags: Dr. David Liebelt knee arthroplasty knee pain knee replacement

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