Long Search for the Right Surgeon Pays Off for Avid Cyclist.

“I don’t want surgery,” Jenny Frayer told Dr. Thomas Fyda on her first visit to Great Basin Orthopaedics in 2007. “But it’s getting harder and harder to live with my knee the way it is.”
 
At 53 years old, the avid cyclist ended up in Dr. Fyda’s exam room reluctantly. Thirty-four years earlier she had had her first knee surgery after an ACL tear. That surgery, and a second to make her “more knock-kneed,” proved to be unwarranted and detrimental, leaving her with poor joint function and a misaligned leg.
 
For those thirty plus years Jenny had managed to stay active – riding and racing her bike and spending up to a month in Europe each summer cycling the Alps – but the dysfunctional knee had taken its toll on the rest of her body.
 
“All those years compensating for my knee took a toll on the rest of my body,” Jenny explains. “I had numbness in my hands, a pinched nerve in my neck, tingling and pain in the arms, and constant knee pain. I had a whole team keeping my body together so that I could continue to ride. I saw a massage therapist, athletic trainer/manual therapist, and chiropractor regularly. I was a mess.”
 
For over twenty years Jenny lived with the knowledge that she needed a knee replacement. After the negative impact of the earlier surgeries she was very apprehensive about going under the knife again.  She spent years researching her options. By her count, she met with over ten orthopedists during those years. “I really sought out top doctors,” Jenny explains. “I went to San Francisco and Sacramento, saw sports team surgeons and many top-rated doctors in Reno. No one could reassure me that they could fix me.”
 
During those visits Jenny heard a lot of conflicting things from top-rated ‘experts.’ One told her she would need two different surgeries to fix her knee. Another said that her lifestyle would “undo” a surgical correction and she would have to keep getting it redone leading to an eventual amputation. Another reassured her about his experience by saying he did five knee replacements a day, making her feel she would be a patient on a surgical assembly line.
 
Desperation led Jenny to Great Basin Orthopaedics and Dr. Fyda in 2007. One day her trusted athletic trainer/manual therapist threw his hands up in the air and told her there was nothing more he could do for her until she got her knee fixed. He was the one who referred her to Dr. Fyda, having seen the surgeon’s work on other clients.
 
When Jenny met with Dr. Fyda she was struck by what she describes as his “meticulousness.” “He spent a lot of time talking with me. We talked about my cycling and my goals. He was the first doctor that seemed to understand my needs.” Jenny also appreciated that while Dr. Fyda had experience doing knee replacements, he didn’t appear to be trying to set a volume record.
 
Dr. Fyda did believe he could help Jenny, but he did not underestimate the complexity of her condition. “Jenny had quite a few underlying challenges,” Dr. Fyda explains. “There was severe arthritis in the joint and she had limited range of motion that was exacerbated by the presence of a lot of internal scarring and old hardware from the earlier surgeries.”
 
  
                                                                                                                    
Before surgery - old staples and bone-on-bone                                                           Jenny's new stainless steel knee 
 
Dr. Fyda was also acutely aware that as a high-level athlete, Jenny’s expectations for her surgery were quite high. “She was already operating at a high level,” says Dr. Fyda, “She would not be satisfied with surgery unless she could operate at the same or higher level with less discomfort.”
 
The surgery was long and the recovery was challenging, but it worked. Jenny was back on her bike riding outside within about two months and the summer after her surgery she did back-to-back cycling tours in Europe. In 2010, three years after her knee replacement surgery, Jenny returned to cyclocross racing, a demanding sport where the rider is required to jump on and off her bicycle and run over obstacles. This past season (2012) she placed second at the Northern California Cyclocross District Championships.
 
Jenny takes second place at the 2012 Cyclocross Distric Championships 
 
 
In the spring of 2012, Jenny competed in the Nove Colli Gran Fondo. This 128-mile ride climbs 12,600 feet through the mountains of northern Italy and attracts 12,000 riders. Her impressive sub 9-hour time qualified her for preferential staging in this year’s (2013) event. 
 
Dr. Fyda does not take all the credit for Jenny’s exceptional outcome. “I listened to Jenny, understood her needs, and developed a treatment plan to address them,” he explains. “I believe I provided the foundation for a good outcome, but it is Jenny’s commitment and the ongoing work she continues to put into her recovery that have made the difference.”
 
Jenny’s strong outcome was the result of a well-designed surgical plan, a meticulous surgery, and diligent physical therapy that started before her surgery. While her surgery was at the end of 2007, Jenny feels her recovery is still a work in progress. “I feel stronger every year. I take on bigger challenges, push myself harder and further, and my body hasn’t given out on me yet,” Jenny explains. “I spent a lot of years in pain, but I am grateful I waited until I found Dr. Fyda. I don’t believe I would be where I am today if I had gone with a different surgeon.”