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A Decade of Pain

The patient story that inspired the TV ad

For a decade, Mary Murphy had been experiencing chronic pain in both of her knees. She had been told by a doctor that her knees no longer had any cartilage. It became obvious that as time went on surgery would be inevitable.

Due to Mary's fear of surgery though, she put off undergoing the procedure for a long time. Her knees became even worse shortly after her husband died in 2000. The pain continued to escalate and was becoming unbearable.

In addition to the pain of losing a loved one, having to endure a major health problem alone was not easy on Mary. She felt isolated not having her best friend by her side in such a tough time. Because of her immobility, she was unable to be active and do things she enjoyed. She couldn't drive anymore either, so visiting friends and family became a rarity. Moving and getting around became such a task that it left Mary with no choice but to consider surgery.

Choosing the Right Hospital

In the fall of 2005, she decided to visit Andrew M. Star, M.D., director of the musculoskeletal program at Abington Memorial Hospital. Eileen Campbell, Mary's daughter, knew what an extraordinary physician Star was from hearing about him over the past six years of working at Abington. Abington is one of just 22 hospitals nationwide (and the second in Pennsylvania) to receive accreditation for its joint replacement program from the Joint Commission, which is a national accrediting organization that has been setting standards of excellence in health care for 50 years. Eileen knew that her mother would be provided with state-of-the-art care, so she encouraged her to make an appointment with him.

Mary immediately felt at ease with Dr. Star and was more comfortable with the thought of surgery, especially because of his wonderful reputation. "Patients are often nervous when it comes to the idea of having surgery, particularly because of the pain they expect to experience during recovery," said Star. "However, we are now able to offer less invasive,'muscle sparing' surgical procedures for knee replacements. Our goal is to reduce pain during the postoperative period and to speed recovery and rehabilitation. Although it will take long term studies to evaluate all of the effects, we are very optimistic and enthusiastic about these new techniques."

Millions of people in the United States suffer from arthritis in the knee, which is associated with pain and disability. Non-operative treatments can be helpful in some cases, however when progressive deterioration of the joint (like in Mary's case) leads to severe pain, patients will often choose total knee replacement. Dr. Star performs over 400 knee replacements per year. He is innovative and is on the front line in using the latest technology in the operating room. Mary's procedure utilized not only the mini-incision technique, but the use of computer assisted technology as well. By using computer navigation, Star could better align the knee implant with the bone.

Mary's Stay at Abington

The surgery went very well and Mary was extremely pleased with the care she was provided during her stay at Abington. She was touched by the warmth and genuine concern the staff demonstrated for their patients. Mary explained that from her pre-operative preparation through her surgery and rehabilitation, she only experienced top-of-the-line care. She was particularly grateful to one nurse who came to see her on his day off. Mary was in awe of this kind gesture.

When Mary was discharged, she felt somewhat sad about leaving. The interactions at Abington made her want to stay longer, which is a feeling she did not expect to have when leaving a hospital.


After her stay at AMH, Mary continued with physical therapy at home for two weeks and then began going to an outpatient facility for routine physical therapy. She experienced a quick recovery and within six weeks she was able to walk around with little difficulty. There is no longer any pain in her knees, which feels like a miracle after having severe pain for almost a decade.

Now that she is mobile again, she is able to get out and do the things she enjoys like playing cards with her friends and other past times that most people take for granted. She was also ecstatic that she was physically able to dance at a family member's wedding. According to Mary, "You don't realize how important the little things are in life until they are taken away from you." Mary is so grateful to have those joys back in her life, and she is so appreciative of Dr. Star and the staff at Abington for taking such wonderful care of her.

For more information about the Orthopaedic and Spine Institute, call 215-481-BONE.

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