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Greg Merchanthouse

Better late than never

Greg Merchanthouse endured years of pain in an effort to avoid knee replacement surgeries. Now, he says, he only wishes he’d had the surgeries sooner.

Greg, a commercial real estate agent in Richmond and former city council member, began having arthritis-related knee pain at least 10 years ago. At first, he could manage it with rest, over-the-counter medication and occasional cortisone injections. But before too long, the pain was keeping him up at night. He quit playing golf and couldn’t even walk through a shopping mall with his wife.

“Right about that time, I read about a new orthopedic surgeon at Reid Hospital who had very good credentials,” Greg said. “His name was Dr. Mario Lee, and I decided to make an appointment.”

Greg was impressed by Dr. Lee’s approach. “I really wanted to keep my original knees as long as I could,” says Greg, now 69. “I had some ideas about natural remedies, and Dr. Lee was willing to try them. They helped for about six months, but when the pain came back I decided it was time.”

Greg had both knees replaced in 2010 — one in April and the other six months later. Before his first surgery, he attended three classes at the Reid Spine & Joint Center that explained what he could expect before and after the procedure. There, community members who had undergone knee replacement surgery shared their experiences. Like many patients, Greg says the classes
relieved any anxiety he had about surgery.

After each knee replacement, Greg underwent intensive physical therapy at Reid. “Therapy is vitally important. I did as many sessions as possible,” he says. “In the beginning, I could barely move the pedals on a stationary bike, but by the end I was doing it all — elliptical machine, weight lifting, you name it. Now I can travel, exercise, do things with my wife, kids and grandkids. My knees feel like they used to and nothing holds me back.”

Orthopedic surgeons at Reid use pre-operative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and specialized computer software to help the surgeon position the implant precisely. The result is a less invasive, shorter surgery, which can mean a better outcome.

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