Rachael’s Patient Story - Knee Replacement Surgery

A lifelong hiker, Rachael wasn’t about to let her increasing knee pain keep her from the trails. She had knee replacement surgery and less than a year later, was out hiking again.

Increasing joint pain

“When I was younger, I was very active. In my 20’s I was a triathlete. As it sometimes happens with a family and motherhood… my life became encompassed by my children and my job as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I love what I do, and always knew I wanted to be a CRNA. Perhaps this gave me special insight to what having my knee replaced would entail. But, I had spent many years caring for my family and others and not focusing on myself and what I wanted and needed.”

“As my children became more independent, I started walking and hiking for fun again. 

Turns out…..I love to walk and hike. LOVE it.  Like, feeds my soul love it.

As a result, I got healthier and lost weight. But, I had knock knees. Once I started hiking again, the inside portion of my knees took quite a load. My left leg wasn’t as bad… but my right knee was a totally different ball game.”

“After 2 years of hiking and increasing my mileage, my right knee started really hurting. My surgeon recommended an arthroscopy. The medial meniscus was shredded along with a fair amount of arthritis.  Post op the pain continued and I just had to “deal” with it. Over time, I had a series of 3-4 injections to try to provide relief. The final injection was more aggressive, but actually made things worse. I ended up with a limp because of the pain. However, because of this particular type of injection, I wasn’t able to have a knee replacement for 6 months.”

“During that time, I couldn’t long distance walk or hike… nothing. I would typically walk at least 4 miles a day. But now I limped and hurt. Walking was important to me… my quiet time, my time for introspection, my time to meditate. It was my time to look in. So, having my knees function was important to me.”

Not all patients are candidates for this product and/or procedure. Only a medical professional can determine the treatment appropriate for your specific condition.

"It was nice having a doctor that understood the quality of life that I wanted to live. I need to be active to be happy. And even though I was young, I didn’t want to waste any more of my life in pain. It’s too short and I had too much that I wanted to do. I didn’t want to spend it unable to move like I wanted. I wanted to live fully… now. If I only have “x” number of years left, I want them to be the best.

Before the surgery, I pushed myself through the pain of working out regularly and staying active so I could be strong for the recovery. I knew that staying active was one of the best things I could do to help in my recovery. I didn't know what to expect, but I was very optimistic." 


"My new knee changed my life."

Rachael hiking the Appalachian Trail (above, left) and with her husband hiking in Greece (above, right). 

Returning to an active lifestyle after knee replacement surgery

“In December of 2020, I had a total knee replacement performed on my right knee. My surgery went as expected. I received a Zimmer Biomet Persona Knee (click here to find a patient brochure about the Persona Knee). I walked with physical therapy on the afternoon after my surgery.   Because I had received an Adductor Canal block (a type of injection used by anesthesia as a nerve block), but also because I took my other OTC meds and did what I was told to, and I was able to be up and around easier than I expected.”

Talk to your surgeon about the plan for your pain control administered during surgery, and about a plan for pain control after the surgery.

“During my recuperation phase, I did everything as instructed by my physical therapists, even when it hurt or when they’d say just do 10 more…  I’d do them. In the end, I think they made a huge difference for me. They finally kicked me out of physical therapy and said, ‘just start walking’ which I was delighted to comply with.”  

Appropriate post-operative activities and pain will differ from patient to patient. Results are not necessarily typical, indicative, or representative of all recipient patients.  Results will vary due to health, weight, activity and other variables. Talk to your surgeon about your activity goals and any restrictions your surgeon may put in place following your joint procedure.

“By this time, it was March and it was very cold. So, I’d go to a local large retail store to get my walking in. I used a cane at first, and worked up to a mile. By May, I was able to return to a National Park, walking 1-2 miles per day. By August, I was back to hiking the Appalachian Trail. I put in 20+ miles my first weekend. The next hike I went to Vermont and then to North Carolina (usually a week or 2 between hikes). In September, I hiked the Shenandoah’s and recently traveled to Greece where we climbed the Acropolis! Everyone keeps saying how amazing it is… and it really is! I’m 8 months post-surgery and I’m hiking like this. 


This is what feeds my soul… what makes me feel good about myself.

I tallied it up, and realized that this past summer I hiked 99.7 Appalachian Trail miles! Had I realized how close I was to 100, I would have turned around one day and hiked that extra .3 miles. To be 8 months post-surgery and to have hiked (mountains) almost 100 miles is absolutely amazing.”

"There were moments where I felt like I did overdo it a bit. I’d come home from a hike and ice my knee or take ibuprofen. Honestly, by the end of the summer my surgical knee was stronger than my natural knee. Maybe it was the wall squats? Maybe it was the Zimmer Biomet knee implants I received? Maybe it was just my determination? My legs are even the same length now.”

Talk to your surgeon about whether joint replacement is right for you and the risks of the procedure, including the risks of infection, implant wear, loosening, breakage or failure, any of which can necessitate additional surgery or treatment.

“There was synchronicity to it all… my great orthopedic surgeon, my surgical and anesthesia team, the right anesthesia block, physical therapists who invested in me, supportive family and friends, and my determination. Everything came together for me to be successful. 

I knew that I had to do the work to be successful. Physical therapy can be challenging. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes you just don’t want to do it. But, I knew that if I wanted to get my life back, I had to work for it. And I have to keep working for it. I still go to a local gym to walk when I can’t be outside. It’s not always fun, but it’s worth it.

People can’t even guess which knee I had done! It’s the strongest part of me. I can’t convey how appreciative I am. The effort of the people around me. The product. I’m so thankful.”

Please let us know how useful this article was to you

Thank you for rating this article.

Here's more you can do

Share Your Story

People like you need to hear that they're not alone. Your story can make a difference in their life.
I Want to Share My Story

Be Informed. Be Prepared!

Sign up for personalized article recommendations in your email.
Get Updates

About Us

Learn more about who we are and our mission of helping patients find balance in their lives.
About Us

Find a Doctor

Search by speciality, location and more. Find the right provider for you.
Find a Doctor