Scott, a 52-year-old fire captain from Bayonne, New Jersey, is also a veteran endurance athlete, having competed in more than 20 Ironman races, as well as hundreds of triathlons, marathons, and various running, cycling, and swimming events. “I even had a short stint as a professional triathlete many years ago,” Scott says.
In his mid-40s, Scott had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in both knees. He resumed running, only for the pain to return even worse than before. “It got so bad one day that I went back to my orthopedist, who said I had torn my meniscus again,” he says. Scott also got some news that came as a shock: he had osteoarthritis. “I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I thought only older people got arthritis,” he says.
His surgeon recommended a surgical procedure known as high tibial osteotomy. This procedure improves knee alignment—reducing pain and pressure on the damaged area of the joint—and can delay the need for a knee replacement. He also recommended that Scott contact Eric J. Strauss, MD, an expert in complex knee surgery at NYU Langone’s Sports Medicine Center.
“I got back a piece of my life that I thought I’d lost forever.”—Scott, Age 52
Recovery after a high tibial osteotomy takes two to three months, and physical activity is limited initially. Although Scott was hesitant about surgery because of the recovery time, he met with Dr. Strauss in July 2019. In addition to a high tibial osteotomy, Dr. Strauss recommended replacing the damaged knee cartilage with an osteochondral allograft, a piece of tissue that contains bone and cartilage. “Dr. Strauss explained that I would have no restrictions once I healed,” Scott says. “The best part about having this procedure is that it would not just fix my problem but also its cause.”
Dr. Strauss performed the surgery on both knees in October and December 2019. After six weeks, Scott could ride a stationary bike at low or no resistance and lift light upper body weights. A few months later, he was free of crutches, and getting on and off his fire truck without giving it a second thought. He was also thrilled to start running again.
A little more than a year after surgery, Scott is completely pain-free. “I’m over the moon with the results of my two major knee surgeries,” he says. “I thought I would never run again, and now I’m running 20 miles a week at a 7:30-minute pace, biking 150 miles a week, and swimming a few days a week. I also got Dr. Strauss’s blessing to do squats and leg presses. I got back a piece of my life that I thought I had lost forever. I’m so thankful for what Dr. Strauss and his team have done for me. He is down-to-earth and a genuinely good human being.”