This article is presented in partnership with MU Health Care.

Every March, Missourians gather in the predawn darkness at the state’s trout streams, grip their fly rods, and wait for the 6:30 a.m. siren that signals the start of trout season. When the siren sounds, thousands of fishing lines launch and often cross paths in a web of chaos.

Willis Richmond, 62, a medical technologist from Harrisburg, Missouri, prefers to play the waiting game. He holds back as the siren sounds. Then, while the others are untangling their lines, he casts and enjoys five or 10 minutes of peaceful fishing.

The waiting game helps during trout season, but Richmond discovered that it’s not the best strategy for dealing with his knee pain.

Richmond grew up playing sports and took the phrase “no pain, no gain” to heart. As an adult,  he enjoys anything outdoors. While volunteering as a lacrosse referee, he realized the effect pain was having on his life.

“I started to notice that I was slowing down,” he said. “I was taking pain medication before I got out of bed, then before and after games. As an official, you run up and down the field for two to three hours a day. Mentally I was there, but physically I could no longer fulfill the requirement.”

His daughter, Michelle, took notice and encouraged him to visit a doctor. That’s when he met with James Keeney, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in total joint replacements at MU Health Care’s Missouri Orthopaedic Institute.

The cartilage in Richmond’s left knee had deteriorated, leaving him with bone-on-bone contact. His right knee maintained only a shadow of cartilage. He needed two knee replacements.

Few hospitals perform bilateral, single-anesthetic surgery, but Keeney believed solving both problems at once was the best solution.

Only six weeks after surgery, he bent his knee to a 120-degree angle, which exceeded the national six-month postoperative goal of 116 to 118 degrees.

Today, he’s back to trout fishing and is grateful that he finally took steps to manage the pain.

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