Not having the pain, being able to walk and move freely, it's impossible for me to put into words what that means.
Lance McGinnis has always been an active guy. He played football and threw javelin in college. In his 20s and 30s, he played tennis and racquetball; biked around Manhattan; and even boxed at the New York Athletic Club. But that active life caught up to him — causing incredible joint pain in his knees and hips. When he was in his early 40s, Lance struggled to complete basic physical tasks.
“The tipping point that finally made me get the first joint replacement was not being able to walk two blocks without a lot of pain. I couldn’t take a short hike without agony. My first son was born in 1999 and I wasn’t able to push his stroller without having to ice my knee immediately afterwards. At that point I said I have to do something or I won’t be able to play with my kids.”
In 2000, at 44 years old, Lance had total knee replacement surgery on his right knee at a New York City hospital. Again in 2006, he returned to that hospital to have total hip replacement surgery on the right side.
In 2010, the financial services advisor found himself with a familiar pain this time in his left hip. But he decided to go somewhere else to have the surgery done.
“I chose Dr. Geller because a client of mine had her knee done by him at NewYork-Presbyterian. She said, ‘I had a terrific experience with Dr. Geller. You should give him a call.' I respect referrals and word-of-mouth, so I called the office, went in and met him,” he says.
Dr. Jeffrey Geller, is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in arthritic disorders of the hip and knee. Though many factors can contribute to joint degeneration, participation in sports increases the risk of joint injuries that can lead to osteoarthritis, a condition that develops when the cartilage breaks down. A member of ColumbiaDoctors Orthopedics at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital, Dr. Geller provides surgical and non-surgical treatment options for osteoarthritis and other degenerative joint disorders.
“The replacement surgeries I had on my right leg — the knee and hip — before Dr. Geller were terrific. But working with Dr. Geller and New York Presbyterian, that took it up a level,” Lance says. “The process was easier. The care in the hospital was better, and the care afterward — the attention — was terrific.”
With his new left hip, Lance went back to his active life, until 2018 when his left knee started hurting a lot. Again he went to Dr. Geller for help.
“I remember coming in to see him when the left knee — my last natural joint — was really bothering me. It was limiting my ability to play tennis and climb stairs. The final straw was when it affected my golf game,” Lance recalls. “That was it for me. I said I've got to take care of this. I went in to see Dr. Geller, and he said, ‘Wait. Let's do cortisone injections first, we'll see how long that lasts, maybe that can delay surgery.’ I was sort of stunned, this was a surgeon saying let's not do surgery. But that’s Dr. Geller for you. He was looking out for my best interests.”
Although surgery is a more commonly known treatment method for osteoarthritis, injections are an effective, non-invasive option. Corticosteroids like cortisone provide short-term, rapid pain relief and reduce swelling from inflammation.
The cortisone injections worked for more than a year. However, 15 months after the injections, the pain returned. Dr. Geller decided it was time for Lance to undergo partial knee replacement surgery. Though Lance had been through several surgeries at this point, his experience having this left knee replaced in 2018 was different.
Dr. Geller’s nurse contacted Lance to invite him to a pre-operative education session. The pre-op classes provide patients undergoing joint replacement surgery with detailed information about what to bring to the hospital, what to expect the day of surgery, pain management protocols, and rehabilitation needs after the operation. Patients are given a “What to Expect” patient education binder that includes handouts and instructions on how to prepare for the upcoming surgery.
“I didn’t think I needed an education session, I felt like I could teach the education session,” he said.
But wiser heads — his wife — prevailed and Lance grudgingly went to the education session. He was very pleasantly surprised. “The pre-surgery education made a huge difference in my experience in the hospital and after the hospital. Meeting the care team, the nutrition team, and the physical therapy team, it really made a difference. It surprised me, I didn't think it would, but I'm glad I did the session,” he says.
Lance was discharged from the hospital the day after the partial knee replacement surgery and immediately began the rehab process. Now, three months after the surgery, Lance is completely back to his active life again — playing golf, tennis, paddle tennis, biking, and even dancing.
“Not having the pain, being able to walk and move freely, it's impossible for me to put into words what that means.” he says. “Dr. Geller didn’t just give me back my athletic life … he restored my ability to do things with my family and friends, instead of just sitting on the sidelines. That's priceless.”