Serving up a new knee

Tennis coach Paul can’t fault his Birmingham Knee Replacement.

I have been coaching tennis and squash since 1969 when I was 22 years of age. Presently I run a tennis coaching Academy in Brighton and organise and coach tennis at Windlesham House School near Findon, Worthing, as well as Cottesmore School, Pease Pottage near Horsham. Both these schools have strong sporting records as preparatory schools. Their tennis records are exceptional.

Paul Diggens, BKR and bilateral BHR patient, playing tennis

Paul also had bilateral Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) surgery back in 1998 by Mr McMinn before returning for a Birmingham Knee Replacement (BKR) in 2009.

Brighton and Hove Tennis incorporates my Tennis Coaching Academy where my colleague Mark Ryan and a further six tennis coaches operate. I particularly enjoy introducing beginners to the game of tennis as I have personally had so much fun from it and feel it is a game for life.

Similar to how both my hips were some eleven years prior to my right knee surgery, my knee x-rays showed little or no cartilage. Mr McMinn said I should be in excruciating pain. Mobility was very limited. In my profession of coaching tennis, I could not push off, run or turn. The knee became obvious once the hips had successfully been sorted. I was reluctant to have the operation as Mr McMinn impressed upon me that knees were more difficult than hips to deal with.

I felt fit but seriously handicapped and knew that my right knee would only get worse. I decided to have it replaced whilst I was in a position to build the muscle support around the knee. The knee joint is unique. It is the only joint in the body with two condyles (points of contact). The groove between the two condyles is curved, causing the knee cap (or patellar) to travel to the outside of the leg during flexion. The BKR is unique in orthopaedics because it allows the patellar to follow this natural motion during leg flexion.

I listened to a lot of people I knew who had undergone regular knee operations. They varied in success. I then saw Mr McMinn at the twelve year follow up of my bilateral Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) surgery. He told me about his revolutionary Birmingham Knee Replacement and that it was likely to give me more mobility than traditional knee replacements. When I had my hips done, it was pioneering surgery and as this was so successful I had a lot of faith in Mr McMinn making a success of my knee.

Apart from my first four hours following surgery – when I was in a lot of pain until I had morphine – I was free from pain and enjoyed my remedial treatment including all the strengthening and mobilising exercises. I was always very happy with the progress I was making. I went to a physio and a personal trainer and also did quite a lot of walking including a seven mile approx. walk within four weeks of my operation.

My personal trainer was very nervous about me using weights when doing exercises, for example: when straightening my knee in a sitting position. Then after approximately four weeks my physiotherapist told me to load maximum weights on my knee to do ten reps in all my exercises. This was a complete reversal to what I had been doing and naturally my personal trainer and I were slightly nervous of this change. However, it proved to be correct for me as I quickly built up muscles surrounding and supporting my knee. I was walking with crutches immediately and within a week felt they were just there as a precaution and disposed of them altogether after about three weeks.

Walking downstairs I could feel a stretch in the back of my knee. Going upstairs was never really a problem after two weeks. I live on the third floor of a seven floor apartment block. After the first two weeks, part of my rehabilitation was going up and down the seven floors at least three times daily as well as using the stairs as an exercise aid. It was probably after about six months when I did not notice the knee whilst walking downstairs.

It took about three months or so before I returned to work as a tennis coach. I love what I do but had resisted the temptation to return early as I had been warned by Mr McMinn and his staff not to get back to playing tennis too quickly before the new knee had settled and the muscles surrounding it had strengthened. Once I did return to playing I was surprised at my knee’s strength and the mobility I now had which was unbelievable to what it was before my operation. I remained cautious and relished pushing myself a little more each day.

I also try and play golf and my level of play is very average but it has been so much better since my knee operation. I can now crouch down when lining up a putt on the green which is something I have been unable to do since well before I had my hips operated on in 1998. I enjoy swimming and cycling and can stand at parties. Standing was probably more of a problem for me before my operation than walking!

I am not just satisfied; I am over the moon with the outcome. There is no noticeable difference between my knee function and bend in my good knee and that of my right operated knee. I tell all my friends although I am cautious to say that they should only have this operation if their quality of life is suffering or they are in pain. Mr McMinn did say to me that although his results are excellent mine was an exceptional result.

It means the world to me to continue being pain-free and active. I love life and sport is a major part of my life from a work and pleasure point of view.

If it was not for modern medicine and the likes of Mr McMinn I would be in a wheelchair now for the rest of my life.

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