New Knee and a New Me

Organization: Service: Story Topics:
Joint Replacement

Alan King is an energetic man to say the least, who has played basketball, baseball, football and golf, and has an active family life. Happily married, he spends most of his time with his two daughters and three grandchildren.

Though he is active today, beginning in the early 1990s, Alan’s physical activities began to taper as pain in his left knee became increasingly worse.

A retired government employee from Washington D.C., Alan and his wife moved to Mission Viejo to be closer to their children and grandkids.

“I wanted to play with my grandkids. They are very active, and have a lot of energy. It was important to me to be strong so I could hold them and run around with them, no matter what it took. At one point, I could no longer do any of that, let alone walk for an extended period of time,” recalls Alan.

Alan scheduled an appointment with Larry Gersten, MD, medical director of the Joint Replacement Center at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center. After a full evaluation of Alan’s knee, Dr. Gersten recommended an injection to Alan’s left knee known as viscosupplementation. The additional fluid facilitates better knee movement, reduces pain and can slow osteoarthritis progression. It’s a non-surgical option to consider before opting for a full knee replacement.

“The injection seemed to work for about three weeks and after that, the pain was back. By the time I returned for my next visit with Dr. Gersten, I was ready for knee replacement surgery,” says Alan.

“At the Joint Replacement Center, we have a team approach to joint replacement, including both knee and hip replacement. Focusing on education and communication, our expert team of surgeons, physician assistants, coordinators and rehabilitation coaches provide the complete spectrum of joint care, consistently and seamlessly. We are a leading hospital known for faster recovery times, fewer days in the hospital and lower complication rates,” explains Dr. Gersten.

To prepare for surgery, Alan participated in a pre-operative educational class at Saddleback Medical Center. Lead by nurses and physical therapists, the class focuses on preparing patients and their “coach” for the procedure and recovery process.

Less Pain, More Gain

Before surgery, Laura H. Park, MD, anesthesiologist, performed a peripheral nerve block, essentially injecting local anesthetic around the nerves that innervate part of the knee with the purpose of controlling postoperative pain.

Generally, instead of “pain blocker,” the procedure is more commonly referred to as a peripheral nerve block.

“With use of nerve blocks, patients tend to become more active postsurgery and during physical therapy. Use of oral and IV medications are also reduced,” explains Dr. Park.

Dr. Gersten performed the full replacement surgery on Alan’s left knee with success. He stayed in the hospital for two days, followed by three weeks of in-home physical therapy and then outpatient therapy.

Walking the Walk

Alan is seven months into his recovery and back to chasing his grandkids around; that is, when he’s not traveling with his wife, visiting their summer home in St. Kitts. 

“The entire Saddleback Medical Center team was amazing,” says Alan.

To learn more about the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center, visit

Larry M. Gersten, MD
Featured physician:

Larry M. Gersten, MD

Medical Director, MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Saddleback Medical Center
  • Orthopedic Surgery