Golfer happily back on the course after knee replacement

Linda Lenehan has led a very active life.

While her banker husband was at work, Lenehan raised two children, which many would say is plenty of activity. She also kept the family fed, repaired things around the house and called someone to repair what she couldn’t.

But in addition to raising two children, she also raised and trained Irish setters. During dog show season, she often traveled twice a month to show one of her Irish setters and compete against other breeds.

“The shows were fairly strenuous,” recalled Lenehan, now 72 and living with her husband in Los Lunas, New Mexico.

“There were the long hours driving, unloading the dog and his crate, plus the equipment and grooming table. After getting down on my knees to bathe the dog, I changed into nicer clothes and then ran and led my setter around the ring during the judging. After packing up and driving home, I always had a pretty good weekend workout.”

With the recent rise of pickleball, Lenehan started playing matches with her friends in her community.

But over time, the “wear and tear” on her knees, especially the cartilage within her knee joints, caused her a great deal of pain and motivated her to visit an orthopedic specialist.

“I started seeing a specialist 15 years ago when the pain started in my late 50s,” she said. “With a shot of cortisone, my knee would get better and then worse. Over the course of 15 years, my knee got to the point where the cortisone wasn’t helping anymore.”

Partial knee replacement

Lenehan had trouble finding the right orthopedic surgeon in her area. But when her neighbor told her about his successful knee replacement surgery with Dr. Patrick Gilligan, Lenehan scheduled an appointment with Lovelace Medical Group Orthopedics.

Dr. Gilligan diagnosed Lenehan with osteoarthritis, a wearing down of the cartilage in the knee joint.

“I ended up having partial knee replacement surgery to repair the inside of my right knee,” she said.

Lenehan’s surgery was successful without any complications. “I don't think my surgery could have gone any better.”

“Since my surgery was just a partial replacement, Dr. Gilligan did not have to cut into the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or my quad muscle, so my leg is still pretty stable. I used a walker for support for only five days after my surgery,” she said.

Lenehan also expressed her thanks for Dr. Gilligan and team. “I want to give a shout-out to his office staff,” she said. “They were great and gave me all the information I needed to know going into the hospital for the surgery and for when I got home.”

Visited by home health aides for two weeks after surgery, Lenehan did appropriate exercises and stretches to add flexibility and strength to her repaired knee.

“They measured my extension and my range of motion after my exercises,” she said. “This was important to me because I need to know how I'm doing. If I'm not making progress, I need to work harder.”

Lenehan explained that when she was sitting down and extending her right leg, they wanted the knee joint to be essentially flat.

“Three weeks after surgery, my knee is almost straight, but not quite. As for my range of motion, I’m only at 105 and they want it to be 130, so I’ve got a ways to go.”

Lenehan is also doing exercises to strengthen her quad muscles, the group of muscles at the front of one’s thighs. The quad muscles are used to perform a variety of movements, including kicking, running, jumping and walking.

Back on the golf course

With all her strengthening exercises and rehabilitation efforts going well, Lenehan is looking forward to playing golf with her husband, especially since it will only be three and a half weeks since her surgery. “We have a tee time for this Tuesday, but I’m only going to play nine holes and see how it all goes,” she said.

She will continue to ride her bicycle around her community but will wait before playing pickleball again. “With its quick play that requires lots of starts and stops, I don't want to undo anything from my surgery. I'm going to wait on playing pickleball until I'm further along in my recovery process.”

The Lenehans are looking forward to traveling on a couple of trips next year.

“We have a trip planned for January to go to Hawaii, so there will be some considerable walking during that trip,” she said. “I hope to do all that walking pain-free.”

“Regardless,” said Lenehan, “I’m retired, so every day is a weekend. As for golf, I can hit the ball straight, just not very far, but at least I always find my ball!”

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