Skiing was the best rehabilitation

02.05.2017 — Patient stories

Man enjoying weather and exercising

An active skier, Mathias Eklund found that their hobby was also a great way to rehabilitate after joint replacement surgery. After their post-operative check-up, he has skied 985 kilometres in a matter of months.

“I had to exercise despite the pain,” says the 57-year-old PE teacher from Vaasa, describing their life after surgery.

Physical injuries are, understandably, problematic for PE teachers, as exercise is part of their job description. Increasing pain in the knee made walking difficult in particular, causing Eklund to limp even at work. Gradually, the pain shifted to his hip.

Eklund kept working, but could participate less and less.

“Most demonstrations I could do, but my students spotted the trouble and started asking me about my knee.”

Coxa set the ball rolling

Eklund comes from an active background in sports. Ball games like basketball and football, as well as ice hockey, have been an important part of his life. Sports with explosive and fast-paced running started to hurt the knee some years ago.

An examination in 1999 found damage in Eklund’s knee that was repaired with osteotomy. The lower limb’s bearing axis is shifted by cutting the bone and reattaching it at a more suitable angle. 10% of osteotomy patients will have healthy knees for ten years. Eklund got 16 years out of his.

“In the end, I could only cope with medication. The last two years I was not able to go on walks with my wife. We are both physically active, so my ailment changed our sporty routine,” he says.

The pain was also present in the night.
“I had to sleep with my leg off the bed, as the pain brought a feeling of pressure on it.” When the leg was extended downwards, the pressure and the pain eased up.

Eklund was ready for surgery in 2015, and in September they received permission. The waiting list for their local primary care hospital was extremely long, so Eklund exercised their freedom of choice and called Coxa.

“I have been staying up to date with orthopaedic operators. Coxa has a good reputation, and I had heard many good things about the hospital,” says Eklund about their choice.

Coxa set the ball rolling. October proved a good time for the surgery, as Eklund would be on holiday. This gave for Eklund’s substitute to get their bearings before the surgery.

“Everything was simply perfect,” says Eklund, not sparing his praise.

Up and at them

Eklund relaxes by going sking. He skis thousands of kilometres all year round – if there is no snow, he goes out on a pair of roller skis.

“As soon as I was given permission after the operation, I started skiing. It was important for me both physically and mentally.

As an active PE teacher, he needed very little to prepare for the surgery. His muscle strength was excellent.

Eklund arrived in Tampere on the day before the surgery. On the morning of the surgery, he had his check-up after leaving the patient hotel, proceeding to the surgery in the afternoon. The surgery took two hours to complete. Eklund describes the operation as exciting but professional.

“I recovered easily and naturally in the ward. “Every day I noticed how I got better with the physiotherapists,” says Eklund.

At home, he returned to skiing little by little. The sliding motion was safe and smooth, perfectly suited for recovery, when jumps and shocks are forbidden. After his post-operative check-up, the active skier has made a full comeback – 985 kilometres’ worth, all told.

The process does not end with the surgery

“I was eager to rehabilitate myself, perhaps a little too eager. Had to pump the brake at times,” Eklund admits with a smile.

Care should be taken while exercising during recovery to allow tissue to grow stronger. Movement will promote healing and reduce pain. Eklund considers staying still the worst thing you can do after surgery.

“The process is far from over after the surgery, you need to take care of your rehabilitation. It will be harder for those who have been less active before the surgery. Even so, anyone can find a good way to exercise.”

Two weeks after his surgery, Eklund started weightless circuit training and water running – six times per week, one hour at a time.

“I also did balance exercises with my physiotherapist. They were challenging, but that’s how you get better. Water is also a fine instrument for exercise.”

Slowly, swelling receded from the leg and the pain subsided. Today, Eklund does not need pain medication. He avoids jumping and running during his PE classes, but aside from that, everything is normal. Eklund is 100% satisfied with Coxa.

“The staff were supportive and superb – they really spurred me on. Their humour was convivial. I happened to share my room with a former footballer, with whom I could joke around,” Eklund says.

He hopes that the staff at Coxa will keep up the good work. His treatment was excellent and no post-operative complications arose.

“And whatever the case, I’m sure some good hard skiing would work wonders,” Eklund ends with a smile.