Veteran career Marine Christopher Simpson, 44, struggled for years with severe osteoarthritis in his left knee.
A product of a combat injury suffered in Iraq in 2009 as well as weight-bearing, high-impact exercise over the years, the pain forced Simpson to retire in 2021 and curtailed the pursuit of the extreme fitness activities he loved.
“My quality of life was down,” he says. “I’m super active and fit. This is a huge part of my life. Without exercise, things can become mentally challenging. I couldn’t perform the duties required as a Marine infantry officer or do the activities that I enjoyed.”
Simpson consulted UCI Health orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Yang, who said his reconstruction options were limited due to the severity of the arthritis in his knee. He recommended a partial knee replacement because Simpson’s arthritis was localized on the inner side of the knee.
“Christopher’s case was atypical,” Yang said. “Usually, we get patients for this type of procedure around 60 years of age. But because of his age and fitness level, as well as his pattern of arthritis, he was a good candidate.”
The results of the procedure were more than Simpson could have imagined. The Dana Point resident recently competed in a fitness competition that included 8,000 meters of running and eight different stations of functional movement, including a sled push, rowing and 50-pound sandbag lunges.
Simpson is grateful for Yang, who has made himself readily available to answer questions and offer support to this day.
“I knew this was my guy. He is so experienced and accurate in his knowledge and the capability and limitations of the procedure,” Simpson beams. “I am so happy to be blessed by his professional and technical excellence.”
Being able to move freely without pain has given Simpson renewed vigor.
“This goes much deeper than just a joint replacement surgery. It has changed the trajectory of my career, my life, and my quality of life because I'm back doing all the activities I love,” he says. “I told Dr. Yang that he was my hero for getting me back to where I needed to be.”
Learn more about UCI Health Hip & Knee Surgery Services by calling 714-456-7012.