Patricia Feuerborn, 73, is not used to being “on the sidelines” when it comes to exercise and physical activities. The Pocatello resident has long enjoyed outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding and downhill skiing.
But when the former elementary school teacher was at a rest stop near the Hood River Valley in northern Oregon, she injured her right knee, which led her to curtail many of her activities.
“We were at a rest stop coming out of Hood River Valley,” Feuerborn explained. “I was walking on a short ledge to get a better look at the river. When I decided to get down, the ledge looked too tall to step down, so I jumped. When I landed, I felt an intense pain in my right knee.”
When the pain did not subside for several weeks, Feuerborn made an appointment to visit the orthopedic specialists at Portneuf Medical Group OrthoIdaho.
Diagnosis and treatments
Feuerborn was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. A degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage within a knee (or hand or hip) joint begins to break down, causing the bones to change, crumble or create bone spurs.
The staff also found evidence of an old tear in her meniscus, the cartilage band between the bones that decreases stress on the knee joint.
Over the course of the next year, Dr. Anthony Joseph tried various treatments to address the pain and limited movement in Feuerborn’s right knee: X-rays, cortisone injections to relieve the pain and many physical therapy sessions.
During this period, Feuerborn and her husband took a trip to the Caribbean to visit some friends. One day they took a small boat out onto the water. When they returned to shore, Feuerborn stepped from the dinghy onto the dock. Her right knee immediately collapsed, causing her great pain.
Under Dr. Joseph’s care, Feuerborn received a series of three viscosupplementation injections. This substance is used to lubricate and cushion the knee joint. It has been shown to provide relief for up to six months in patients with osteoarthritis in a knee.
Two months later, Feuerborn received an experimental procedure that Dr. Joseph believed would help and was in the process of gathering data to compare its results to the results of other treatments.
During the procedure, 60 milliliters of blood was drawn and run through a centrifuge twice in order to concentrate the platelets in the blood. Guided by an ultrasound, seven cubic centimeters of the platelets were then injected directly back into Feuerborn’s knee.
Dr. Joseph and staff have collected data and results over many years to help quantify the effectiveness of each of the treatments that Feuerborn received. The data collected will help other healthcare providers determine the best course of action for patients experiencing the same symptoms as Feuerborn.
“Our goal with these injections is to allow Pat to have two to five years of pain-free or minimal pain,” said Amanda Dunahoo, a medical assistant at Portneuf Medical Group OrthoIdaho. “We’re hoping to delay the progression of osteoarthritis and the need for a total knee replacement.”
After six weeks of treatments, Feuerborn is pleased with the results.
“To me it was worth trying a new treatment,” said Feuerborn. “I have much better movement with my knee and only sporadic, manageable pain. I can’t do everything I want to do when I practice yoga, but I can kneel and get around. I consider my life to be much improved.”
Feuerborn has praise for Dr. Joseph and staff during the treatments.
“I appreciate his honesty, his straightforwardness,” she said. “I never felt pushed into anything with him. I am very happy with the care I received from them.”
Keep moving forward
When asked what she and her husband will do now that her knee is feeling better, Feuerborn replied, “Well, we're retired so we’re always making plans. We have friends who live in the British Virgin Islands. They have a boat down there, so we are going to spend two weeks with them and then two weeks in Puerto Rico because we haven’t been there.”
While she has stopped many of the activities that she has done over the years, she will continue to enjoy cross-country skiing, yoga and walking.
“I’m not planning any new activities unless my health develops at a higher level of functioning than where I’m at now,” Feuerborn said. “Of course, I need to keep working at it. My main goal is just to keep moving.
“I know I am aging. I’m not worried about it, but it's a reality and I'm dealing with it as it comes.”
If you would like more information about Portneuf Health’s orthopedic services, visit our website. To make an appointment with Dr. Anthony Joseph and Portneuf Medical Group OrthoIdaho, please call (208) 233-2100.