The way Monte Johnson sees it, if you are going to blow out a knee skiing it ought to be the result some kind of equipment-flying, head-over-heels, Dagwood-Bumstead-style calamity.
It shouldn’t happen while making some routine turn.
“I was just taking one last run at the end of the day,” he says. “I made a turn, and heard a pop. It’s kind of a boring story.”
Maybe, but not as boring as Johnson’s life could have been had his story had a disastrous ending. Johnson, who spent about a decade living in The Dalles with his father and step-mother before moving to the Modesto area, relies on his knees for a lot more than just bending.
He makes his living breaking ponies, and he makes his fun skiing, both activities in which functioning knees come in handy. So Johnson says he feels fortunate to now be feeling well on his way to complete recovery, after having his knee repaired last May by The Dalles orthopedic surgeon John Schwartz, M.D.
“It is feeling a lot better now than I ever expected it to after learning what had happened,” Johnson says.
What happened, Dr. Schwartz explains, was “a blown-out ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and what we call a bucket-handle meniscus tear.”
The ACL is the ligament that connects the upper leg with the lower leg. The meniscus is a C-chaped piece of cartilage in the knee that helps the joint move slowly and acts as a shock absorber.
Dr. Schwartz was able to repair Johnson’s ACL using a graft from his hamstring, and also was able to repair the meniscus, rather than remove the damaged portion, which is often necessary.
After the repairs were made, Johnson was referred to MCMC’s Outpatient Therapy program at Water’s Edge. Dr. Schwartz says patients with knee injuries similar to Johnson’s typically return to a normal level of functioning, or very close to it.
“Results are generally very good,” he says. “Athletes, for example, can return to their previous competitive level in most sports. Most patients come back and do really well.”
Dr. Schwartz says there are a lot of people in the region who, like Johnson, either earn their living, or have their fun, working with horses. Among them, knee injuries are not uncommon.
Johnson’s skiing accident actually occurred on a mountain in California, where he has worked on a ranch for the last few years. He returned to The Dalles for his surgery on the advice of his father and step-mother, who were aware that Drs. John and Bruce Schwartz practiced in the area.
Johnson is glad he made the trip. “Dr. Schwartz did a fantastic job, as far as I’m concerned.”
For information about knee repair, sports medicine or any other orthopedic concern, or to make an appointment with Drs. John or Bruce Schwartz, or orthopedic physician assistant Jenn Van Atta, call 541.506.6500.