PRESCOTT VALLEY - More than 20 years ago, avid horsewoman and pet-sitting business owner Darlene Wood of Chino Valley suffered a knee injury.
She endured the pain and discomfort for years, wary of surgery that might short-circuit a very active lifestyle. Time worsened the weakened knee such that it would buckle unexpectedly. Horseback riding forced her leg to go numb and once out of the saddle she could not walk.
Knee replacement appeared inevitable, she said.
An acquaintance referred her to Dr. Mark Davis, an orthopaedic surgeon specially trained in the latest computer-navigation and muscle-sparing technique for knee and hip replacements.
"Not only was he a wonderful surgeon, he was a wonderful person,' Wood said of the 47-year-old father of five who earned his doctor of osteopathy from the Kansas City School of Medicine.
Davis did a special fellowship to learn this new joint replacement technique he said he embraces because of its positive, long-term benefits for patients.
"Not only does he have the latest and greatest technique, but he has the mannerisms and personality to go along with it, which I appreciated.
"And now, almost a year later, I can walk with absolutely no pain,' said Wood who is also back to horseback riding and walking the various four-legged animals she cares for each day. "I'm thrilled. I can walk again. Woo-hoo!'
Those positive accolades are why Davis, who became an orthopaedic surgeon in 2002, was willing to undergo an extra fellowship in Florida with world-renowned specialists focused on total knee and hip replacements after a five-year residency program. Part of the training was how to spare muscle - he doesn't cut through the tendons to reach the knee or the hip - and use computer navigation and infrared sensors to assure a proper knee and hip alignment as part of any replacement operation. The procedure he uses also minimizes blood loss, and he does not rely on tourniquets to reduce pain.
When he came to Prescott seven years ago, Davis started to perfect the technology, learning what worked and what did not, with his goal to help offer patients a productive recovery so they could more quickly reclaim their lifestyles. Davis is currently transitioning from a joint practice with Northern Arizona Orthopaedics to an independent practice in his same location on North Windsong Drive.
What Davis is most proud of is he can now offer state-of-the-art treatment in this region, rather than requiring patients to travel to a major metropolitan hospital. He relies on Stryker for his navigation equipment and artificial joints, one of several manufacturers that he said has a strong track record with their products that are expected to last at least 20 years.
Davis, too, is adamant that much of the success with these operations has to do with spending time with the patients to determine their expectations with such a replacement. He said his patients range in age from 30s to 90s. His oldest patient is 98.
"We want to come up with the best plan to get them back to ideal health,' Davis said. "It's sort of like getting new tires. If you don't do a proper alignment, the new tires will wobble back and forth.
"This (computer) navigation helps me make cuts so that they line up just right,' Davis said, noting it is a tool that combines with a doctor's training to reach the best outcomes.
Whether someone is a horseback rider, a pickleball player, or just wants to be able to sit behind their desk without pain, Davis said this technology allows that to happen.
"A hip replacement can be a huge, life-changing event,' Davis said.
His reward: the sight of people smiling again because they can do what they have been unable to do for months, even years.
"The first time I see them they are in pain. After, I see them walking and happy,' Davis said. "That's the satisfaction for me. To change their life for the better in a small way.'
Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter