A Uni Knee For Me

My 101st NRL game was my last in first grade. A run from dummy half, a tackle by a legend and a fractured bone below my right knee sealed my fate. 31 years later that knee received a long awaited upgrade.

A Uni Knee For Me
On the right leg here at the SFS.

D Day

I was picked on the wing for Souths 1992 round 1 clash against the Parramatta Eels at Parramatta Stadium. Coach Frank Curry had shown faith after having previously coached me in the 1986 Under 23s Premiership winning team.

Most of the star players from the Eels 80s era were no longer around but 2 remained, Peter Sterling and Brett Kenny.

At this stage of his career Kenny had moved to lock and a tackle he made caused the damage.

I picked up the ball from dummy half and Kenny tackled me around the legs. There was no foul play at all just a rugby league moment that has occurred countless times.

I heard a crack and knew immediately that something was wrong, my day was over. X-Rays revealed a cracked Tibia bone on the joint of the knee. The injury didn’t respond to treatment so I had an operation to smooth the surface around the joint.

A comeback just never happened and my league career was over.

Pounding The Pavement

Once I had retired from footy I started doing a bit of road running. Long road runs were a challenge for my 110kg frame but pounding the pavement was a way to maintain a decent fitness level.

A Uni Knee For Me
The right knee had served me well for 55 years.

I competed in 5 consecutive City to Surf fun runs. Each year improving my time to challenge myself.

Eventually I started to feel a touch of soreness in my right knee but put it down to the old injury and wear and tear. My GP sent me for an X-Ray and Arthritis in the knee joint was discovered.

Arthritis & The Uni

Arthritis is a disease causing painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints. Posttraumatic Arthritis can occur when a broken bone damages the joint surface. This leads to arthritis years after the injury.

A Uni Knee For Me
A unicompartmental knee replacement.

There is no cure for Arthritis so there are 2 choices to make. Either manage it or replace the affected joint. Luckily for me I was able to find a suitable compromise, a unicompartmental (partial) knee replacement.

1 Compartment

The definition of unicompartmental means 1 compartment. The knee has 3 compartments, the inner, the outer and then behind the kneecap. If you only have Arthritis in either the inner or the outer then you can potentially be a candidate for a unicompartmental replacement. The benefit of a unicompartmental replacement is that it just addresses one part of the knee. This means that the surgery is easier to get over and it feels much more like a normal knee than a total knee replacement.

Before the operation I had bone rubbing on bone but now I have the luxury of metal rubbing on plastic with no pain. The rest of my knee functions normally as before. My operation was on the inner medial side. This is the more commonly affected side rather than the outer.

A partial knee replacement operation retains the knee joint and allows a quicker recovery time. My doctor advised me that within 3 months patients can expect to be back to normal whereas those that need a full replacement can expect a 12 month recovery time frame.

The Time Had Come

Eventually as my knee got worse I started limping more. The limp got so bad that I had to stop work because I couldn’t do my job safely.

Due to the rate of decline my doctor said that I would need either a partial or full replacement. He did however say that at 55 years old it’s best to hang on as long as you can before taking the surgical option to replace the knee.

As advised I went away and attempted to prolong the inevitable by working the surrounding muscles and dropping a few kgs. I gave it a go but I soon realised the time had come to get something done.

My right knee had served me well for 55 years. That lifetime of service on its own came to an end last week. On the 7th of July 2023 the day finally came and my doomed knee was repaired surgically by an incredible team at the Prince of Wales Private Hospital, Sydney.

My road to recovery has just begun but the early signs are fantastic. My knee feels strong already so I am confident I can make a speedy recovery. I’ll be walking home down Botany Road in no time!

A Uni Knee For Me.

By Steve Mavin for Bunnies TV.


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