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Knee Replacement Brings Dracut Woman’s Dream Vacation One Step Closer

Catherine Albano

Touring Italy is known for many things – viewing ancient architecture, enjoying incredible cuisine and walking the many stairs that line the narrow streets.

Catherine Albano wants to do it all, but knee pain kept forcing her to postpone her trip. Knee pain had plagued her for the last couple of years, and a surgery on her meniscus provided only temporary relief.

“I just wanted it to feel better,” Catherine says. “Walking was painful. Sitting for long periods was painful. It got to the point I just wanted something done.” That’s when Catherine consulted with Lowell General Hospital orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Sigman, who had good news for her – not only could he get her knee ready for Italy, he could get her back on her feet just hours after surgery with minimal pain.

Lowell General Hospital’s joint replacement program offers a full spectrum of joint care for total hip and total knee replacement patients — from diagnosis and treatment to education, surgery and recovery. Some of the area’s most experienced physicians and clinicians in the treatment of joint pain have dedicated their expertise to create an Orthopedic Center of Excellence here in the Merrimack Valley.

A key to Lowell General’s patient-centered approach involves education about the procedure and recovery. Catherine attended a joint replacement class at the hospital that answered all her questions about the day of surgery and on through recovery. She also got to see one of the private rooms where she’d be staying after surgery.

“I had no pain at all,” Catherine recalls. “I was really surprised and pleased I was able to walk so far.”

But when Dr. Sigman said she’d stand up almost right away, she was skeptical. Relatives who had undergone a similar joint replacement procedure warned her there was quite a bit of pain in the days and weeks afterward.

To minimize this post-operative pain and reduce a patient’s need for opioid-based pain control, Dr. Sigman uses an injectable medication that works to numb  the surgical site from 24 to 72 hours. Hours after undergoing the surgery, a physical therapist came to her room and explained to her what she’d need to do before she could go home, which included getting out of bed and to a physical therapy session. The therapist then tested Catherine’s knee’s flexibility before she got her up and had her walk down the hall with the help of a walker.

“I had no pain at all,” Catherine recalls. “I was really surprised and pleased I was able
to walk so far.”

The next day, Catherine was able to go home, where she would continue to get care as she recovered. Circle Home, a member of Circle Health, sent a visiting nurse as well as occupational and physical therapists to her home to help her get moving again.

Three months after surgery, Catherine says her mobility is back. “Before, going up and down stairs was a lot of pain,” Catherine says. “Now with the surgery, stairs are not a problem.”

This spring she plans to go to Italy. “It will be good to have two good knees over there,” she says.

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