Richard Ganz is a man on the move. At 61 years old, the Wilmette resident is as active as a person half his age, regularly enjoying activities like running, skiing, swimming, and biking. So when his knee needed to be replaced, he turned to Dr. Richard Berger, an expert in minimally-invasive orthopedic surgery who could get him back on his feet, skis, and bike as fast as possible.
Ganz first noticed the pain in his knee while out for a run in the summer of 2014. His typical run was four to six miles, but he decided to push himself to eight. He was able to successfully meet his goal, but his knee never felt the same.
“I couldn’t walk more than a block without pain prior to surgery,” Ganz says, which significantly limited his ability to engage in all of the physical activities he’d previously loved. The athlete who once skied a black diamond run called “Wounded Knee” (see picture) now couldn’t even take a relaxed summer stroll without his own wounded knee causing him severe discomfort. At the advice of a colleague, Ganz reached out to Dr. Berger.
Doctors in the U.S. perform over 600,000 knee replacement surgeries a year. Most of those surgeries require a hospital stay and an average recovery time of three months to a year. Ganz trusted that with Dr. Berger his experience would be much different. He had two main expectations going into his surgery, he says: that he’d be out of the hospital the same day, and that he’d be able to quickly resume his preferred physical activities. Both expectations were met.
“[I received] very professional care at Rush,” Ganz says. “It was so exciting to be in the hospital by 8:30am and home in bed by 5:00pm.” Dr. Berger’s unique, minimally-invasive approach applies less trauma to the knee than traditional replacement surgery, expediting the healing process. For Ganz this meant limited time on pain medication and a speedy return to his normal, active routine.
Asked how he feels about regaining the quality of life he had prior to his knee pain, Ganz responds, “Fabulous.” He’s aware that his knee isn’t the “original equipment,” but he has resumed the life that makes him happiest. Ganz is back to pain-free walking, skiing, and biking, but says he isn’t quite ready to tie up his running shoes again.
“I could choose to run,” Ganz says, “but I don’t want to risk early problems with my new knee.” For now, he’s okay with being cautious—he knows what it’s like to have to stop doing his favorite activities, and it’s worth it to him to ease back into things slowly. Helping him get back on the running trail will surely be the knowledge that, should he experience pain in his knee again, Dr. Berger is only a short drive away.