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Knee Surgery Keeps Him Dancing for Life, Love

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Good health doesn't just happen. You have to work at it.

Barry Lynn, Ladysmith, Wisconsin Barry Lynn, Ladysmith, Wisconsin.
This viewpoint continues to motivate Barry Lynn, Ladysmith, Wisconsin.

Lynn is a professional dancer, having pursued a lifelong passion of choreographing and performing modern dance for more than 70 years.

For another man of 93, a stiff, painful knee may have been career ending.

Instead, Lynn opted for knee replacement surgery.

Three years later, at age 96, Lynn continued to dance, and his Ladysmith studio holds four concert series each year.

My body is my livelihood

"I love theater performance and telling stories through dance," said Lynn. "My body is my livelihood. If I can't use it, I can't work."

In August 2007, Lynn sought the help of Orthopedic Surgeon Scott Cameron, M.D.​, Marshfield Clinic Eau Claire Center.

His right knee had become too painful when dancing.

Given his age and exceptional health, he wasn't Dr. Cameron's typical knee replacement patient.

"Barry was remarkably flexible and athletic," said Dr. Cameron. "He was proud of his age and that he was still able to perform. But advanced arthritis in his right knee was limiting his dance positions and creating uncomfortable pain."

An X-ray revealed the knee joint's poor condition.

"Barry had the choice of living with his knee as is or having knee replacement surgery," Dr. Cameron said. "With advanced arthritis, the likely effectiveness of more conservative treatments such as medication or arthroscopy was not good. Because of his amazing health and strong desire to continue his level of activity, surgery was his best option."

Total knee replacement

Lynn underwent a total knee replacement in October 2007.

This type of surgery replaces the damaged joint surfaces with metal and plastic implants.

Dr. Cameron used a minimally invasive approach, which spares the quadriceps muscle, the most important muscle group around the knee.

"This approach requires a smaller incision and allows the surgeon to complete the knee joint replacement without disturbing the quadriceps muscle or tendon," said Dr. Cameron. "Barry's physical condition made him well-suited for this approach. He was able to perform six weeks following his surgery."

Conditions such as advanced arthritis, extreme degeneration from osteoporosis or major joint deformity or stiffness may be better treated with a traditional knee replacement approach through the quadriceps muscle.

To manage pain after either surgical approach, minimally invasive or traditional, patients may receive intravenous or oral pain relief medications and cryotherapy, which uses ice and cold to reduce swelling.

"Symptoms of knee joint problems and pain creep slowly into your life over months and years," said Dr. Cameron. "It's important for patients choosing knee replacement surgery to be as conditioned as possible before the surgery. Physical therapy beforehand can help with quad strengthening and increased range of motion, which in turn, will help with recovery."

When considering knee replacement surgery, experience matters.

Marshfield Clinic orthopedic surgeons based in Eau Claire and Rice Lake routinely do knee joint replacement surgeries at Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire and Lakeview Medical Center, Rice Lake.

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