Leigh C No Time for Knee Pain - Leigh's Story

“When my friend recommended I see Dr. Liporace. I’m so glad I listened.”

“When my friend recommended I see Dr. Liporace,” she says, “I’m so glad I listened.”

When Leigh Carr comes home from her job, she can look forward to a big greeting. “I have four dogs, all rescued mutts, and they love to jump on me,” Leigh says.

Walking and playing with them keeps her active, as does caring for her 11-year-old daughter. “I love my kid and I love my dogs, and also my four cats,” says Leigh, an executive at a major real estate and development company in Hudson County. “It’s a lot to take care of them, and you can’t do it when your knee bothers you. When I’d come home with my knee aching, I would just not want to hear it from anybody— dog, kid or wife.”

Knee pain had long been an issue for this lifelong athlete, whose sporting career began before people were playing close attention to injury prevention. “When I played basketball when I was younger, it was unladylike to wrap your legs and ankles or wear kneepads,” Leigh says. “You just muscled through the pain.” She ran, golfed and played and coached basketball well into her 40s, but the activity took its toll in the form of arthritis. Leigh had her left knee replaced more than a decade ago at a hospital in New York.

Frank Liporace, MD
Frank Liporace, MD

Over the years, her right knee became increasingly painful and prone to locking up. Last fall, on the advice of a good friend, she made an appointment with Frank Liporace, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with RWJBarnabas Health medical group and Vice Chairman of the Department of Orthopedics at Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC).

A Judicious Diagnosis

“Some people have the misconception that when you go to an orthopedic surgeon at age 60, you’ll immediately be scheduled for a knee replacement,” Dr. Liporace says. “In fact, there are a number of steps we take first to decipher what the problem is, and then there is a whole range of care we can offer.” Even before an X-ray is done, the doctor takes a history that can provide information about whether the issue is a ligament, joint cartilage or meniscus problem—or a combination.

“In addition to learning what symptoms the patient is experiencing, we consider what result she has had from prior treatments,” Dr. Liporace says. After a diagnosis is made, a customized plan of treatment is created. “There was a mentality 20 years ago that you start small and work your way up to more invasive treatments,” Dr. Liporace explains. “Now we know that it’s very important to tailor how invasive we get based on a patient’s need.

For some patients, total knee replacement is called for, and less invasive steps would not be appropriate. For many patients, however, that’s not the case.” Non-surgical treatments can include medications, such as oral or topical anti-inflammatories, or injections that may be cortisone- or hyaluronic acid-based. Physical therapy to balance muscles related to the knee may also be prescribed. If those aren’t effective, arthroscopy—a minimally invasive technique for knee surgery—is an option. Leigh Carr’s examination showed mild problems with the joint and also problems with the meniscus cartilage. Injections bought her some pain-free time—and were mission-critical during a trip to Disney World with her wife and child. Eventually, however, a tear in her meniscus required arthroscopy. Later on, more joint-cartilage problems became painful. Leigh was scheduled for a right knee replacement at JCMC.

Care Close to Home

“I’m a born-and-raised Hudson County girl,” Leigh says. “If you had told me 10 or 15 years ago that I’d be having knee surgery here, I’d have laughed at you. It used to be that you automatically went to New York City for any kind of specialized surgery.”

“We can offer the whole gamut of care, following all of the evidence based medicine available, using all the technologies available in 2018—without patients having to leave their home state,” says Dr. Liporace. “We have it all here, along with some of the shortest length of hospital stays and lowest complication rates in the area.”Leigh walking with her wife, dog, and daughter

“The sheer cleanliness and newness of the hospital is amazing, and the care is wonderful,” Leigh says. “I had the same level of care as I ever got in New York. I didn’t have to go through the trouble of traveling, and my friends and family didn’t have to hump through the tunnel to see me.”

After a series of physical therapy sessions, Leigh expects to be fully functional and active—for work, family, fitness and pets—in time for the end of-year holidays. “When my friend recommended I see Dr. Liporace,” she says, “I’m so glad I listened.”

Make an appointment today by calling 844-63-ORTHO or 844-636-7846 or visit the Orthopedics Institute at Jersey City Medical Center.