Walk of freedom


Senior citizens with knee implants did a mini walkathon to dispel fear about surgery and to spread awareness on keeping knees healthy

Last Sunday, when all the attention was on Madurai Marathon, a small group of individuals silently took out a walkathon in another part of the city and broke many a myth.

They were a group of people who underwent total knee replacement in the last five weeks to five years. They walked a kilometre to show how independent and comfortable their life is after going under the scalpel.

“People are scared of the surgery and think it is not possible to return to routine life after knee replacement,” says octogenarian A Subramaniam, who underwent right knee replacement barely 45 days ago. He was operated on his left knee five years ago. “The walk was to share our journey of successful recovery after being treated,” he adds.

He was joined by a dozen-and-a-half-more people, all retired and above 60 years who willingly came together to spread awareness on healthy knees. Retired school teacher T Revathi endured knee pain for several years while walking and standing for long hours. “Pain became unbearable,” she says. She underwent knee replacement in June last year and feels a world of difference now.

“People are not well informed about benefits of knee surgery. By participating in the walkathon, I hope we have been able to give encouragement to those currently facing advanced knee joint problems,” she says.

At 72, S Arumugam says he has got back the confidence of leading normal life.

“Five years ago, when I started with unbearable pain in my left knee, I became extremely anxious because I needed support for everything. Today, I can climb stairs and walk without a stick,” he says.

Some of the participants were joined by their family members and cheered by the staff of a hospital on the way as they walked from Krishnarayar Tank Road to Setupathi School on North Veli Street and back.

“The pace of our walk was not important but the fact that we agreed to participate and completed the walk,” says I Chellappa, 70. Both he and his wife got knee replacement in both the legs and lead a pain-free life now.

The walk was followed by an interactive session with patients lined up for similar surgeries.

The man behind the event was orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Mithran M. “Knee arthritis is a problem of calcium deficiency and cartilage rigidity and should best be treated when people are healthy,” he says.

But in India, where 70 out of every 100 patients with knee pain are women, people get habituated to tolerating the pain. They fear it is an ailment that afflicts the bone and to replace the knee, the bone will be cut in a painful surgery.

According to Mithran, earlier the surgery technique was different and infection rate was high. But the Korean ligament technique in practice now removes only a slice of the cartilage for inserting the prosthetic knee that is attached using the patient’s ligaments.

This enhances the patient’s comfort level as the knee does not feel like an external insertion,” he explains.

Mithran says knee replacement is the best option the moment early symptoms of osteo-arthritis set in because it alters the daily lives of patients.

The youngest patient he has operated upon is 42 years and the oldest is 87. “But,” he rues, “people have the mindset of not visiting a doctor till the pain aggravates and problems like BP, cholesterol, diabetes are added. “It unnecessarily worsens the condition.” “Why delay the march toward quality life when you are healthy,” he asks.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 2:32:35 PM |

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