Frank, age 46, was a commercial electrician: he hasn’t worked since the knee replacement surgery. “I can barely keep my balance so going up and down a ladder isn’t going to happen,” he says. “Just lying in bed and lifting my leg will cause my knee to pop out and the pain is almost unbearable.”
Getting a knee replacement in your early 40s was almost unheard of about 20 years ago: the typical hip and knee patient used to be about 70 years old. In Frank’s case, he played a lot of sports, broke his leg and blew out his knee at the same time. But the fastest-growing age group for knee replacement surgery is between 45 and 54 years of age - and this age group has grown by almost 200 percent in the past 10 years for a number of reasons. Getting a knee replacement is supposed to reduce pain and allow you to become more active again, but that isn’t the case for many Zimmer knee patients.
Frank’s Zimmer knee implant was a problem even during surgery - something his orthopedic surgeon wouldn’t discuss with him during the follow-up appointment. “I was told the surgery would take two hours but it took all day,” he explains. “According to my surgeon’s notes (I have my medical reports), the surgery went smoothly but I was in hospital four days and after that I went to a nursing home for two weeks for rehab. When I got out, they sent a physical therapist to my house and she said because I was walking each day I didn’t need her help. But I did need help: even in the hospital I complained that something wasn’t right because I was in so much pain.
“And it got progressively worse. I went back to the surgeon for a follow-up and told him how it kept popping out of place but he said that it would ‘get better’ and I would ‘get used to it.’ He just gave me a prescription for pain and told me to come back in a year. But I couldn’t wait a year. I have been to University of Penn hospital because my knee kept folding inwards, it kept popping out and I would literally have to kick it and snap it back into place. But they couldn’t do anything because Medicaid wouldn’t cover a revision surgery.
“Then I found out that my knee is on a Zimmer NexGen recall list. It has been recalled since 2010, and Zimmer notified doctors and hospitals that they had a defective product. I have my medical report that says I have a Zimmer NexGen manufactured in 2010, but I don’t have the serial or lot number.”
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“I have had problems with my knees for more than 20 years but nothing like this. I will stand from a sitting position and it will buckle; it will give out on me and there is no place to go but down - I literally hit the ground.
“I’m getting by without the pain meds but I’m not doing much. If not for my girlfriend, I would likely be back home with my parents. I have thought about contacting Zimmer directly and asking them to fix my knee; in return, I will sign anything they want. I don’t care so much about the money if I get involved in a Zimmer knee lawsuit, I just want my life back. If my replacement knee was defective when it was put in, they should be held accountable.”