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Surgery helps Tomah woman get back on her feet

For Marlene Kamrath of Tomah, pain was simply a part of her daily life. Arthritis in her knees made activities most of us think nothing of extremely difficult for her. "Getting in and out of the car, going shopping and just walking down the street were very painful," she remembers.

She turned to Orthopedics physician assistant Mark Steging, PA-C—who provides outreach care at the Gundersen Tomah, Sparta and Onalaska Clinics—for help in easing her pain. "It was nice to be able to go and see Mark right in Tomah and avoid traveling longer distances, especially in the winter months," Marlene says. "He told me I could call if I was having trouble and he'd to whatever he could to help."

When the pain medications and injections weren't giving Marlene enough relief, Steging referred her to Gundersen orthopedic surgeon Edward Riley, MD, in La Crosse.

"The arthritis in Marlene's knees didn't allow her to enjoy many activities without pain. She couldn't walk far before she needed to sit down and rest," Riley says. "Even with the medications, her quality of life was being impacted so we knew we needed to do something more."

Marlene made the decision to have Riley perform a total knee replacement on one knee in September 2002. He replaced her other knee in March 2004 after it continued to deteriorate. She says she could feel the difference in her knees right away. "Even though there was pain from the surgery, I could tell that my knees felt different. I knew things would be better," she remembers.

Marlene did her follow-up therapy after both surgeries at the Tomah Memorial Hospital. She says within six months after her second surgery, she felt like herself again—only this time her knees were pain free.

Today, nearly four years after her first surgery and two years after her second surgery, she says her knees still feel great. "It's not hard to get in and out of my car anymore and I don't have to stop to rest all the time. I'm able to get around a lot easier. It's wonderful," Marlene comments. "If anyone else is suffering from pain like this, I'd say it's well worth it to have the replacement surgery if that's what your doctors think is the best option for you. I'm thankful I had it done. My quality of life is so much better today."

If you or someone you love suffers from joint pain or other orthopedic problems, call the Gundersen Tomah Clinic at (608) 372-4111 for an initial evaluation or more information or call the Gundersen Orthopedics department in La Crosse at (608) 775-2276 or (800) 362-9567, ext. 52276.

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