Bone & joint health Featured

New generation of treatments to preserve joint health your doctor may not know about

Albert Pinto

When Albert Pinto started to feel pain in his legs, he assumed it was normal and came with age. A big soccer enthusiast, he thought that the pain in his knees and his difficulty walking long distances would put an end to his recreational activities.

“I didn’t know anything that I could do about it,” says 55-year-old Albert. When he brought it up to his family doctor, his doctor mentioned that a knee osteotomy was an option for individuals in his age bracket. By shifting weight off of the damaged side of the joint, an osteotomy can relieve pain and improve function.

While Albert was correctly identified as being a potential candidate for an osteotomy surgery, many primary care physicians are not familiar with this type of modern joint preservation procedure. “Great advancements have been made in the field of osteotomy surgery, but many healthcare professionals and patients alike are not aware of these options,” says Dr. Sebastian Tomescu, orthopaedic surgeon at Sunnybrook.

Albert did his research on the procedure and thought it would be a good idea to proceed, especially if it could relieve the pain in his legs at nighttime.

He underwent a knee osteotomy for his right leg first, and then about a year later, he had an osteotomy of his left knee as well.

Despite the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Albert continued to receive care but in a new, virtual format. He explains, “My care team was available virtually in case I had any questions, but my knees just naturally had gotten better over time.”

“Within three to four weeks, I wasn’t feeling pain in my hips and I wasn’t taking any anti-inflammatory medications,” says Albert, “My knees feel like they’re back to 100 per cent and life is starting to feel like it’s returning to normal!”

For patients with cases like Albert’s, the Schatzker Joint Preservation Initiative for Active Adults at Sunnybrook can make a significant difference. For a population with early to mid-stage arthritic diseases impacting their quality of life, this initiative aims to provide advanced surgical treatment options.

With newer bone and joint procedures targeting localized osteoarthritis, the progression of arthritis in different areas can be slowed down while preserving the native joint, which functions better than an artificial one when healthy.

Albert explains, “My whole family life has improved because I can participate in these recreational activities again with my loved ones.” Having this surgical procedure at Sunnybrook meant that Albert got the opportunity to kick a soccer ball around, ride his bike and go on long hikes with his wife and kids.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to play recreational soccer again soon!” says Albert.

The Schatzker Joint Preservation Initiative for Active Adults is named after Sunnybrook’s Professor Emeritus, Dr. Joseph Schatzker. Known for his expertise in trauma, joint preservation and fracture management, Dr. Schatzker continues to consult on patients with a variety of orthopaedic issues.