Ten Years of Severe Knee Pain Ends With Partial Knee Replacements

Michael Cruz spent a decade suffering from knee pain so severe it interfered with his life and kept him from working for months at a time.

Drug injections, pills and two arthroscopic surgeries did little to keep away the pain. It always returned and continued to worsen.

“It was like a metal spike was driven into my knee, and every couple of seconds someone tapped it,” he said. A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug “made my life more bearable, but nothing made the pain go away.”

Michael’s luck began to change when he heard about Southcoast Health Orthopedics and Dr. Joseph Lifrak. The doctor had replaced the knee of a priest at the church where Michael, a service technician for Liberty Utilities in Fall River, was changing a gas meter. As it turned out, he had also performed knee replacements on four of the 10 parishioners who were cooking in the church kitchen that day. They all had nothing but praise for the surgeon, and Michael decided to call for an appointment.

Michael arrived for his first visit in May 2023, already impressed at how quickly he could schedule an appointment. He found himself amazed by the friendliness and cheerfulness of the staff. When he finally met Dr. Lifrak, he began to understand why.

“The way he speaks to you, it’s like he’s your best friend,” Michael said. “He treats you like a person.”

It was suggested that Michael consider a partial knee replacement, something he had never heard from the two or three other orthopedic surgeons he had consulted in the past. At age 48, he was told repeatedly that he was too young for a full knee replacement. 

“The doctor took time to explain to me what a partial knee replacement was,” Michael said. “I asked a bunch of questions and he answered every one of them. He put me at ease and I was actually excited. I wanted the surgery the next day just to get relief.”

Michael had the first partial knee replacement on Oct. 17, 2023 and the second on Dec. 5, 2023, both at Charlton Memorial Hospital. “I had great experiences at Charlton Memorial and Southcoast Health Orthopedics,” Michael said. “I can’t speak more highly about the staff. They’re very attentive, cheery and they give you A+ service.”

Recovery went better and with far less pain than Michael expected. He was discharged from the hospital only after he could dress himself and walk a flight of stairs. After a couple weeks, he started physical therapy at Southcoast Rehabilitation Services in Swansea, MA. Sometimes, Dr. Lifrak would stop by to see how Michael was progressing.

By late February 2024, Michael was completing a move from Pawtucket to Somerset and looking forward to returning to work. He also planned to resume the long walks and bicycle rides he once enjoyed, before knee pain and swelling made him stop.

“I couldn’t ask for a better outcome,” Michael said. “I wouldn’t consider going anywhere but Southcoast Health Orthopedics. If I ever need a total knee replacement, that’s where I’ll be going!”

To learn more about Southcoast Health Orthopedic services visit Orthopedic Treatments MA & RI | Southcoast Health.