For more than three decades, Mike Zelenak has been on his feet for long hours each day to ensure patrons of his Maple Street Grill experience great food and service. While hard work is a good recipe for building a successful restaurant, that daily grind took its toll on Zelenak’s knees.

After experiencing several years of right knee pain, Zelenak’s condition worsened significantly and began to affect his day to day activities.

“I love my job, but the pain got so bad I didn’t want to go to work anymore, and I certainly could not enjoy the outdoor activities I love,” said Zelenak.

Dr. Robert Otto, orthopaedic surgeon at Southern Joint Replacement had worked with Zelenak, prescribing conservative measures such as anti-inflammatory medications to help relieve his discomfort.  But when conservative measures no longer provide relief or when joint deterioration interferes with quality of life, it is time to have a conversation about joint replacement, according to Dr. Otto.

“It is not uncommon for patients to postpone joint replacement as long as they possibly can,” said Dr. Otto.

“We always try the least invasive treatment approach first, and often can buy them some time before they have to make a decision about surgery.”

Zelenak said surgery was not an easy decision for him. “As a business owner, it is hard to think about taking six, eight weeks or longer off work,” he said. “But in the end, I needed a better quality of life.”

Dr. Otto performed total knee replacement surgery to resolve Zelenak’s knee pain and then Zelenak needed his strong work ethic to get him back on the move.

“I was told six to eight weeks of physical therapy would be needed following surgery,” he said. “My goal was to get back to pain free mobility, but this surgery has been life changing. You never realize the accommodations you are making to joint pain until you are suddenly pain-free.”

Zelenak, who is back to running his business, has lost 30 lbs since surgery, is back to hiking and other outdoor adventures. “I recently went parasailing for the first time ever,” he said. “This completely changed how I am living my life, and that is the best part.”