Dr. Paul Heikkinen, a chiropractor, knows all about treating pain. He has dedicated his career to offering patients therapy and information to help them live active, healthy lifestyles without the nagging aches and pains that often accompany injury. Heikkinen takes that dedication to heart, strengthening his own cardiovascular health by road cycling, a sport he has enjoyed since the late 1980s.
Everything came to a halt when Heikkinen went from offering help to needing it himself. While walking down a flight of stairs, he fell forward and hit his knee on the lip of a stair. The pain was intense and the impact on his life was profound: walking was difficult, and activities like standing up from a sitting position were almost impossible.
“I couldn’t do my job,” Heikkinen remembers. “I couldn’t really do anything.”
Heikkinen sought the help of George Lebus, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist on the medical staff at Texas Health Fort Worth and Orthopedic Specialty Associates, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. Lebus carefully examined the injury.
“He was in a lot of pain,” Lebus said. ”He was unable to actively extend his leg. Basically, he could bend it, but he couldn’t straighten it out and, as such, he couldn’t walk. He was on crutches. He had a lot of swelling, a lot of pain.”
Heikkinen’s tendon below the kneecap was ruptured, a debilitating injury because it kept him from being able to extend his knee. Lebus recommended a surgical repair that was a combination of an arthroscopic and an open approach to solve the issue. The surgery involved placing high-strength sutures on both the ends of the torn tendon to bring these ends together, and then reinforcing that with a scaffold to help give the repair strength. Lebus also repaired injury beyond the patellar tendon arthroscopically.
Soon after surgery, Heikkinen was back on his feet and, within a week, was in physical therapy and on the road to recovery. He wore a brace for about four months to protect his knee while he was working, and was able to start seeing his patients again two weeks after his own surgery. Months after the repair, Heikkinen had full range of motion back in his knee and was enjoying hitting the road again on his bike, back to full speed.
“I became an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon to have the opportunity to help people like Heikkenen and get them back to doing what they love to do,” Lebus said. “It’s a really rewarding thing to be able to take care of people.”
“Well, in any unfortunate situation, it’s great to have someone that’s on your side and trying to help with his capabilities,” Heikkinen said, “and I believe Lebus had done that.”
To schedule an appointment with a sports medicine specialist, call 1-877-THR-WELL or visit our online Find a Physician tool.