01 MAR 2022

Free of Pain! New Knee Means Mobility



Alisa Duncan can’t remember a time when she wasn’t in pain.

Alisa Duncan smiling at the camera inside NorthBay's physical therapy suite.Diagnosed at age 12 with rheumatoid arthritis, the 56-year-old Vallejo resident has had her health — and the painful flare-ups — managed by a number of Bay Area providers through the years. But when she came under the care of NorthBay Healthcare in 2018, she felt her needs and concerns were truly addressed and the support she received was head and shoulders above the rest.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in the joints. Alisa has been battling pain in her hands, hips and knees for years.

Alisa was in her 20s when she had both hips replaced. Several years ago, she noticed increasing pain in her knee that was starting to limit her ability to play with her grandchildren, and affected her work as a special education teacher for the Vallejo Unified School District. It was about that time that her health insurance brought her to NorthBay Healthcare. She came under the care of Melissa Schoenwetter, M.D., who prescribed a new and more effective medication, and introduced her to Andrew Brooks, M.D., for orthopedic care.

“Dr. Brooks looked at X-rays and asked, ‘How are you even walking?’ It was bone on bone.” He then presented Alisa with a couple of options: knee replacement or a hip revision.

Alisa Duncan doing a knee strengthening workout.“He made me feel comfortable and really listened to my concerns and opinions,” Alisa said. “He took the time to discuss the options and made me feel like I was involved in the decision. I decided to go with the knee replacement.”

Alisa appreciated all the pre- and post-op information her care team shared with her as she prepared for the surgery.

“I was given pre-operative exercises to strengthen the muscles around my knee, and to help me get familiar with the exercises I’d be doing after surgery. I really liked that.”

NorthBay’s Joint Replacement Program strongly encourages its patients to have either a family member or friend serve as post-operative coach, to provide support before and after the surgery, which was a plus for Alisa.

On the day of the surgery, Alisa was nervous but reassured by the surgical team. “They made me feel really relaxed, and I was happy I was able to go home the same day!”

Alisa Duncan receiving physical therapy from NorthBay Physical Therapy Assistant Paul Miquiabas.Three days after surgery, Alisa met with her Physical Therapist Paul Tepora and Physical Therapist Assistant Paul Miquiabas.

“I was ready for that since they had prepared me so well. I liked working with the same therapist every time. Paul knows where I started and how far I’ve come, so it’s consistent.”

For Alisa, the whole experience was a positive one.

“The quality of care is excellent, the whole staff is so caring, and being able to go home the same day was wonderful.”

Learn more about the total joint replacement program at NorthBay. You can reach our Center of Orthopedics in Fairfield by calling (707) 646-5599, or contact our Vacaville location at (707) 624-7900.

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