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WATCH: Total Knee Replacement Surgery

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CEDAR RAPIDS - Mary Lou Thornburg underwent rapid recovery total knee replacement surgery on Wednesday morning. You can watch the entire surgery by clicking on the links to the left.

Arthritis can mean pain while walking or climbing stairs. And for some with arthritis of the knee, it even means feeling pain while sitting or lying down.

One Independence woman is hoping a high-tech surgery will help her to get moving again.

Mary Lou Thornberg is in her late 50's, and is by all doctors standards healthy. Her knee is the exception. She has suffered from painful osteoarthritis for years. It's gotten to the point where it's holding her back from things she likes to do.

"I should've had this done probably 6 years ago, cause I kept putting it off," Thornburg said. "I garden I flower, I do everything. I still do it, but it takes me a little longer."

After being injured at work, the workwell doctor asked her how she could stand the pain. He told her "your knee is a mess.". She agreed. And so she decided to go ahead and have a total knee replacement surgery.

Dr. Jeffrey Nassif will be performing Mary Lou's knee replacement surgery. He says they make smaller incisions, and cut less tissue than just a few years ago.

"We remove all the arthritis that's in there, we place caps on the end of the bone that are made out of metal," Nassif said. "There's a plastic bearing surface in between."

Getting rid of the arthritic surface on her bone should help reduce pain. Thornberg says on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, her knee pain is at a 9.

"At night I can't sleep because it's like electric shock, that's what it feels like."

According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, more than 95% of patients who have a total knee replacement surgery report significant reduction in pain, better mobility, and a better quality of life. Thornberg is hoping she's part of that 95 percent.

Wednesday, April 1st at 9 a.m., she will have her knee replaced at St. Luke's Hospital.
"A lot of it is mind over matter," Thornburg says. "I didn't 'want to have surgery. I thought, I'll just keep going as long as I can. After surgery they said a couple hours and I'd be up and moving. I said that's fine with me!"

She's ready to move on and hopefully be pain free.

So at what point to doctors recommend you consider a total knee replacement?

If you're having severe knee pain that limits your day to day activities like walking you should consider it. Docs say if your knee is bowing in or out or If you're seeing an inability to bend or straighten your knee if might be time. And finally, if other therapies didn't do the trick, things like rehabilitation and cortisone injections, surgery may be for you.

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