Living Life to the Fullest

After living with pain in her right knee for nearly four years, having a total joint replacement allowed Shirley Rogers, of Beebe, to return to her active lifestyle. The best part is that she has been pain-free since her surgery in 2010.

Despite her high pain tolerance, Rogers admitted that pain in her knee was so intense the last 12 months leading up to the surgery that she cried daily. Arthritis, torn ligaments and persistent joint pain took an agonizing toll on her overall well-being and cheery get-up-and-go attitude. Eventually, arthritis pain medication and knee injections offered little relief.

“I couldn’t get up and down the stairs at work, and it was becoming more and more difficult to move around the office,” she recalled. “I felt like it wasn’t fair to my co-workers, so I decided it would be best to retire.”
When the pain became too great to bear, Rogers saw her primary care physician and was quickly referred to Orthopaedic Surgeon Kyle Blickenstaff, M.D.; he immediately recommended a total knee replacement.

“I wouldn’t consider going anywhere else for treatment other than here in Searcy at White County Medical Center,” Rogers said. “Dr. Blickenstaff was wonderful; he took the time to explain the procedure and answered all my questions.”

Within hours of her surgery, Rogers said she surprised her nurse, as well as Dr. Blickenstaff, by getting up to walk to the restroom by herself. “They didn’t encourage me to get up and walk that soon, but I wanted to,” she said. “I was determined to do everything I possibly could to help my knee get better as soon as possible. Even with a terrific surgeon, a huge part of the recovery process depends on the patient. You can sit and have a pity party, or you can get up and have fun, and I wanted to have fun!”

Physical therapists worked with Rogers during her three-day hospital stay and WCMC Home Health Physical Therapist David Koty visited her home in Beebe. “He did a wonderful job,” she said. “By the time I was ready to go to outpatient rehab, he told them I was doing so well, they would not realize that I was a patient!”

“About the second week after surgery, my knee felt so good I couldn’t even tell anything had been done,” she said. “It was a world of difference to be able to live life without the pain I was experiencing before surgery.”

Rogers said after surgery on July 26, her knee was fully recovered by September. By early fall, she was riding one mile on her new bike at least once, and sometimes twice, a day.

“I would make the same decision to have Dr. Blickenstaff do the surgery all over again,” Rogers said. “I have recommended him to so many people, he also did my husband’s shoulder surgery in January 2011. My care at White County Medical Center was wonderful; I could not have asked for better. I encourage others who are in a similar situation to have surgery as soon as possible. There will be a week or so of some discomfort, but the sooner you have it done, the sooner you will be on the road to recovery.”

Building Better Bones

Dr. Blickenstaff is the senior partner in the Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Department, located inside the Orthopaedic and Spine Center of Central Arkansas at 710 Marion St. in Searcy. He and Orthopaedic Surgeons Thomas Day, M.D., and Justin Franz, M.D., along with Physician Assistant-Certified Lance Kemper, offer all levels of orthopaedic care.

“Shirley is an exceptional example of how to approach having a total joint replacement,” he said. “From her positive attitude to her sense of being empowered to take the right steps toward a full recovery, she did an outstanding job.”

According to Dr. Blickenstaff, painful arthritic joints are the primary indication for total joint replacements after non-surgical treatments prove ineffective. Over time, cartilage within the joints undergoes wear and tear. In x-ray images, the bones appear to touch, which is how phrases like ‘bone on bone’ emerged. 

“The objective in joint replacement is pain relief,” he said. “Pain impacts people in many different ways; it prevents people from normal activity and mobility, and it can even affect their mental health because they can’t do all those things they want to do. With total joint replacement surgery, one goals is to return our patient to their normal lifestyle, whether it be playing with grandkids or playing tennis.”

Additional benefits of joint replacement surgery include improved range of motion and alignment, as well as the elimination of chronic swelling of the joint. Dr. Blickenstaff, along with Dr. Day and Dr. Franz, perform total joint replacements on knees, hips and shoulders.

“We make every effort to educate our patients about what is involved in joint replacement surgery and address any questions they have about it,” he said. “We understand it is a significant procedure, and we want the best possible result for every patient.”

By using high-grade components, Dr. Blickenstaff and his colleagues are able to resurface the joint with replacement parts to give patients, like Shirley Rogers, a new knee and newfound sense of freedom.

“Many other measures are taken to ensure the best care for each patient, including the use of specialized operating room gear, meticulous surgical techniques and a dedicated orthopaedic surgical suite that has an advanced air flow and ventilation system,” he added.

As surgical techniques have evolved, the orthopaedic surgeons are able to offer less invasive approaches to these procedures, which lessens the pain felt following surgery and a quicker recovery. Dr. Blickenstaff added that he is in constant communication with the anesthesiologists, nurses and physical therapists about pain management during and after surgery for a better overall experience for patients. “Finally, physical therapy participation early in the recovery process plays a significant role in their success and following surgery,” he said.

The Orthopaedic and Spine Center of Central Arkansas is an outpatient department of White County Medical Center. For more information, please call (501) 278-8300 or