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Published on September 09, 2015

After Knee Replacement Surgery He's A Warrior Again

A knee replacement put Troy Stonacek back in the saddle of a busy lifestyle

As he hurried through the Denver Airport to catch a flight back to Lincoln, Troy Stonacek realized that something was missing: pain. For the first time in years, his knee did not hurt.

troy stonacek knee replacement bike

One of Troy's passions is
hitting the road on his
full-dress Harley-Davidson

Twelve weeks after having a total knee re-placement at Bryan Medical Center, Troy, a pharmaceutical representative, was on his first road trip since returning to work the previous week. After years of dealing with a painful and less than stable right knee, he’d made the decision to have the surgery last November — and now asks himself why he waited so long.

Dreams of Gridiron Glory Gone

It was time. The knee had been a problem since he injured the medial collateral ligament (MCL) playing football at Pierce High School in northeastern Nebraska.

It had ruined his dream of walking on as a Husker, but after surgery that repaired his MCL, he went on to play nose guard at Kearney State College — and was named a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-American in 1985.

Though a professional football career with the St. Louis Cardinals was cut short, Troy remained active and stayed in excellent shape by regularly working out with weights and cardio training.

Still, his knee continued to cause him problems.

Troy had steroid injections periodically and took nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to control the pain until about 10 years ago, when he made an appointment with Lincoln Orthopædic Center surgeon Douglas Tewes, MD, who started him on HYALGAN injections. The injections, to lubricate the joint, helped control the pain and offered temporary relief, but ultimately they were not a cure for his condition.

Downhill Slide, Big Decision

troy stonacek dr. tewes knee replacement

Orthopedic surgeon
Douglas Tewes, MD, assures
Troy that a new right knee will
give him years of
pain-free mobility.

His right knee gradually worsened until it was difficult to travel, work in the yard or participate in recreational activities.

“There was pain in the knee whether I was riding or walking,” Troy recalls. “Even when I would go for a ride on my Harley, it hurt to pull my knee back, and I would have to stop and get up and walk around as my knee became so stiff.”
As limitations and pain increased, he talked with Dr. Tewes about surgical options.

Total knee replacement involves the removal of damaged cartilage and bone, and reshaping the bony surfaces to fit an artificial (prosthetic) joint made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics and polymers. After cementing the prosthetic components into place and before closing the incision, the surgeon bends and rotates the knee to ensure it functions properly. The vast majority of patients experience dramatic pain relief and improved knee function after the surgery.

“Troy’s knee represents what happens to athletes and others who leave knee injuries,” Dr. Tewes explains. “When cartilage is damaged at a young age, it frequently continues to break down as we age and leads to arthritis. Knee replacement is an opportunity to improve the function of the knee again, hopefully lasting 20-30 years.”

Last November, Troy underwent a total knee replacement at Bryan Medical Center’s Joint Academy, an all-inclusive program that focuses on an individualized approach to total joint replacement.

“There was no doubt where I would go for the surgery as we have a strong connection with Bryan,” Troy says.

Strong Bryan Ties

troy stonacek knee replacement family

Troy and Shari Stonacek (center)
and their seven children embrace
active lifestyles.

His wife, Shari, is a registered nurse who worked at Bryan Medical Center for
17 years and stays in touch with her former colleagues. Five of their seven children (Jasmin, Jaidin, Jedmin, Jaclin and Joycin) were born at Bryan (Justin and Joslin were born in Kearney before the family moved to Lincoln), and Joslin received her nursing degree from Bryan College of Health Sciences in December.

Troy had been a patient at Bryan Medical Center 17 years ago but hadn’t been up on the floors for several years.

“I was really impressed. The staff was first class, and the rooms were attractive and comfortable. I will definitely go back to Bryan when I have my other knee replaced in a few years,” he says.

After the surgery, Troy was all in as he approached his rehabilitation. As a former football player and used to discomfort when healing from various injuries associated with sports, he took to heart the recommended therapy as he pushed to get his knee back in shape.

“When I took the Joint Academy’s pre-surgery education class, instructor Joan Zeleski Martin, RN, emphasized the importance of going into the surgery in good shape and working hard — and smart — to rehabilitate the knee after the surgery,” he says. “It paid off because my knee feels great.

“I trusted Dr. Tewes to perform the surgery and he certainly met my expectations. The new knee actually feels more solid than my other knee.”

Now, for the first time since college, Troy feels free to use his knee as it was meant to be — for playing golf, working in the yard, keeping up with his active family — and taking his Harley out on the open road, cranking up the music and riding for miles and miles and miles.

For questions about the Bryan Joint Academy, call 402-481-3636, or go to

To learn how you can support Bryan Health, please contact the Bryan Foundation at 402-481-8605.


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