Giddy-up! Modified Joint Replacements Allow You to Get Up and Go a Little Longer

Giddy UpWhen most people reach retirement, they want to relax and take it easy. For 70-year-old Bob Snodgress, relaxation involves working hard on his horse ranch. Years ago, he bought land in Plum Creek Valley and had a ranch built for him and his wife. He thought it was the perfect way to retire, but as the years progressed his knees began to disagree.

As a child, Snodgress contracted typhoid fever, and the disease left him knock-kneed. When standing, his feet were nearly 15 inches apart and his knees bent inward so they touched. As Snodgress grew older, the pain in his knees increased until it became too difficult to live his dream on the ranch. “Working with the horses and mend- ing fences put intense pressure on my knees,” he says.

He was referred to Dr. Roger Greenberg, an orthopedic surgeon at Sky Ridge Medical Center. The doc- tor warned that Snodgress’ knees were grinding against each other and one of the knees would surely collapse. Conservative treatments did not help, so Dr. Greenberg informed Snodgress of the advancements in knee replacement.

During the past 5 years, hip and knee implants have been modified to help increase the stability, comfort and lifespan of these artificial joints. The improvements were developed in response to the increase in demand. Dr. Greenberg says nearly half a million joint replacements are performed each year. By 2030, the number of total knee replacements is expected to jump by 673 percent and total hip replacements should increase by 174 percent. “In the past, most recipients of hip and knee implants were 65 and older, but there has been an increase in younger patients who wish to continue to have active life- styles,” he says.

Snodgress had both knees replaced with cobalt chromium alloy implants. Due to the special nature of his condition, he also had to have ligaments adjusted so he could stand up straight. After the procedure, he gained 3⁄4 inch in height. No longer knock-kneed, Snodgress says a lot has changed in his life.

“The biggest thing is that now my shoes are even,” he says. “I used to have to wear heel caps on one shoe. It’s kind of neat walking now. Of course, the best part is being able to work the ranch. My knees aren’t holding me back anymore.”