Nurse Gets Back on Her Feet

After Knee Replacement

Katherine Krol is a lady who has a lot to keep up with. In addition to her 92-year-old mother living across the street, Katherine’s sister lives next door. Her adult children and four grandchildren keep her busy, too.

Recently widowed, Katherine also works as a registered nurse, so when her right knee started hurting nine years ago, she powered through the pain. “Every time I walked, I had pain,” Katherine said.

She continued working, spending long hours on her feet. When the pain worsened, Katherine consulted her primary physician, who injected steroids into her knee. “I had no pain. It was great,” she said. “I even went to Pierogi Fest with my husband and walked around all day.”

Eventually the effects wore off, and a second injection was ineffective. The pain in Katherine’s knee became intolerable. “I didn’t even want to walk down the hallway if one of my patients needed something,” she said. “My grandkids would say, ‘Nana, come do this,’ and I couldn’t.”

A friend recommended Phil Nigro, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon affiliated with UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial.

Dr. Nigro said Katherine’s knee was bone-on-bone, meaning the cartilage had completely worn away between the bone ends. Katherine was ready to get the problem solved. “I hemmed and hawed, and finally said, ‘I’m done,’” Katherine said.

She had knee replacement surgery in November, in a procedure called kinematic alignment, which Dr. Nigro brought into his practice in the last two years. It allows the knee joint bones to be resurfaced without cutting ligaments around the knee.

“This is a more natural knee replacement that allows people to recover more quickly,” Dr. Nigro said. Katherine went into surgery prep at 7 am, and was back in her room by 10 am. “They had me up and walking at 2:30,” she said. Dr. Nigro released Katherine the next day. Though she wasn’t able to host Thanksgiving like normal, she gave up her walker the next day, urged by her daughter. “I needed that scolding,” she said. “It was scary.”

The first day Katherine returned to work, she had to park on the garage’s second floor. She cringed, remembering the pain she used to have climbing the stairs. Not anymore, though.

“It was so nice not to have any pain,” she said. Dr. Nigro practices at convenient offices in Flossmoor, Tinley Park and Calumet City.

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