News Center

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Life now ‘very good’ for patient after multiple joint replacement surgeries

Steve Gochenour is back to an active lifestyle following
several joint replacement surgeries.
MOORESVILLE, Ind. – Steve Gochenour ran track and played football in high school and college, ran marathons during his post-education days, ran for enjoyment for years after that and has played golf on a regular basis. But despite Gochenour’s active history, it wasn’t athletics that took the greatest toll on his knees and hips.

It was genetics. Osteoarthritis follows Gochenour’s family like a predator, and the disease slowly caused the cartilage in his hip and knee joints to erode, making everyday activities painful.

About seven years ago, during the final days of a golfing vacation, his knees were so painful he was unable to drive himself home. The unbearable pain landed him in the emergency room by the end of the weekend.

That was the beginning of more than half a dozen years of taking prescription pain medication. While the painkillers worked, “I didn’t want to be on them for the rest of my life,” Gochenour said. The risk of heart attacks and other side effects from long-term use of the pain killers was concerning enough, but the fact that they didn’t kill all of the pain all of the time was enough to make him determined to find a lasting solution.

A two-day golf outing in July 2011 proved to be the final straw. A client commented to him that he was walking so strangely, he thought Gochenour would need help getting into his car. The client recommended joint replacement surgery at the Center for Hip & Knee Surgery (CHKS) at Franciscan St. Francis Health, and Gochenour began researching both the surgery and the center for himself. Once he knew the facts, he decided without hesitation to have the surgery.

 “I felt I was just masking the problem” by using pain medication,” Gochenour said. He met with orthopedic surgeon Robert Malinzak, MD, a CHKS orthopedic surgeon, who confirmed the problem in his knees and hips was not going to get any better and only get worse over time.

Gochenour – a resident of Columbus, Ind. – was a candidate for joint replacement surgery as soon as he was ready.

“I needed to replace all of them (two knees and two hips) eventually, so I might as well start sooner rather than later,” Gochenour said. “There was no need to stay in pain now when there was a solution.”

The beginning of the end

The end of pain for Gochenour began with his first surgery, his right hip in October 2011. Within just weeks after surgery, he and Malinzak could tell recovery was going well, and they scheduled surgery on the left hip for December of the same year

After both hips were complete, Steve decided to see how long he could wait before doing the knees. He endured injections of a natural lubricant into both knees and enjoyed a pain-free summer. But the effects eventually wore off, and he underwent his first knee replacement surgery in December 2012 and a second was performed in late 2013.

Gochenour returned to work just a few weeks after each replacement. He credits his relatively easy recoveries to his commitment to physical therapy and post-surgical exercises, his wife’s help with at-home exercises and therapies, and his surgical team.

“The surgeries have gone great,” he said. “Dr. Malinzak is very good to work with — he and all of his staff. My experience has been very, very good every time.”

He shares his positive, do-it-now approach with those considering the surgery for themselves. “From my perspective,” he said, “when you’re ready, don’t hesitate. It’s been a blessing for me to make the move, and I’ve been very pleased with the results. Life after surgery is very, very good.”