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Published on November 09, 2016

Total knee replacement helps outdoorsman get back to nature

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Dan Borgwardt is back to hiking with no limitations following total knee replacement and physical therapy.

Dan Borgwardt, of rural Fountain City, Wis., retired in May 2016 but he's certainly not slowing down.

"You've got to keep going. That's the name of the game," says the 66-year-old.

A Boy Scout leader for decades, Dan thrives on taking his troop on excursions in the wilderness and staying busy with his challenge/ropes course business. But these interests were put on hold for a time when knee pain took over.

In 2008, Dan suffered a meniscus tear and had arthroscopic surgery to repair the injury. When the pain returned a few years later, he tried joint injections to ease the pain and inflammation. At his worst, Dan wore a knee brace at all times and required a regular regimen of over-the-counter medications to dull the pain.

"If I wanted to continue being active, I knew had to do something," says Dan who began investigating total knee replacement, also known as total knee arthroplasty. "A friend of mine saw Dr. [Jeffrey] Lawrence [a Gundersen Health System orthopedic surgeon] for both of his knees. He sang nothing but praises."

After much research, Dan made an appointment to discuss surgery in 2014.

"The entire orthopedic surgery team was so accommodating and attentive to my needs. They prepared my wife and I for exactly what was going to happen before and after surgery," he says.

Dan's surgery was on a Tuesday morning and he was on his feet Tuesday afternoon starting physical therapy. He continued physical therapy at Gundersen Sports Medicine in Winona for the next six weeks. "Winona is fairly close to home, so it was convenient to go there for regular appointments," says Dan.

"My therapists [Ryan Swetkovich, PT, and his team] pushed me but they knew how to push without being overbearing. They made me want to come, and we had a lot of fun together," he says. After physical therapy was finished, Dan continued exercising his knee to assist with his recovery.

Since the operation, Dan has been to the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area, a backpacking trip in the mountains of New Mexico, continues his work with the Boy Scouts and is back to his challenge course business.

"I have no limitations," says Dan. "I'd recommend Gundersen to anyone. All of my treatment was just A1, fantastic!"

Gundersen orthopedic specialists can help you get back to an active lifestyle—whether you have an injury or chronic joint pain. Visit to schedule an appointment close to home.

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