Health Check: Knee replacement improves quality of life for RI man

Being able to easily pick up his 4-year-old daughter, Jasmine, is a really big deal for Mike Finnegan.

He and his wife, Dana Marie, are both semi-retired and moved from Ohio to Rhode Island three years ago to work for Boys Town New England.

That's when Finnegan's knee pain started.

"Just because of the type of work we do, when you're chasing kids around and playing with them and different things with them on the ground, and just the pain got intense," he said.

Finnegan came to see Dr. Gary Ferguson, the clinical director of the Total Joint Center at The Miriam Hospital. When Finnegan sought help, he had already pretty much tried everything.

"Physical therapy, injections, specific medications, activity modification. (He) had both knees involved, really. He had modest success at best," Ferguson said.

Finnegan said the first thing he was asked by Ferguson and his staff was, "What did he want to do?"

"The question I like to ask patients is 'Is this manageable?' And if the answer is, 'Gee, no', then I start to get very confident that surgery has a good role to play right then," Ferguson said.

But what about those people with an aversion to surgery?

"I think the most common misconception is the surgery takes out giant chunks of anatomy and throws them away and that's not the case. Major structures -- ligaments, muscles, tendons -- they all stay. The bones are simply capped with a device on each end of the bone so it has a new surface, that's it. (The surgery) takes about an hour and a quarter," Ferguson said.

Finnegan had his first knee surgery in April 2012, and his second knee surgery a year later.

Now, Finnegan, an adoptive father of an active daughter, said he can be more involved with this Boys Town family.

"Now, I have no pain at all. My quality of life has improved immeasurably, it's not even something you can put a number on," he said.

Miriam was recently designated a Blue Distinction Center in knee and hip replacement by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island, a national high performing distinction.