Canby resident Elizabeth Thorstenson was at her wits' end. At 16-years-old she, like many young athletes, had torn her ACL. Six years later, at 22, she had her meniscus removed, eliminating any padding between the bones in her knee.

Seven years later, at 29, she began experiencing pain and aching.

Over the next 10 years, the pain grew worse and worse. When she turned 39 earlier this year, she had lost the ability to run, climb stairs, or walk without excruciating pain.

She went from one orthopedic surgeon to another looking for help, only to be told nothing could be done. Others told her to wait 20 or 30 years until she was old enough for a total knee replacement, and some didn’t understand her condition at all.

For a mother with four young children and a wife of a firefighter who worked 24-hour shifts, it was devastating news.

“I was really just feeling sad about it, because I couldn’t keep up with my kids. I couldn’t run and play with them. I had gotten to the point where it was difficult even to go out for a walk with them,” Thorstenson said. “It was so hard. I couldn’t get down to the floor anymore to change [my son’s] diaper. My knee was so painful, I was really just limping along.”

Finally, she decided the situation was unacceptable, and took matters into her own hands. A Google search turned up the Dr. Kevin Stone at the Stone Clinic in San Francisco, Calif. He had a new and unique surgery to do meniscus replacements.

“By then I was kicking myself — why didn’t I Google this sooner?” she said.

She contacted the clinic to see if she was a candidate for surgery.

“I was very afraid they would say no,” she said.

But they said yes.

Stone said Thorstenson’s case is typical to most patients who come to his office.

Over the last 20 years, Stone has developed a new procedure to help patients who develop arthritis at young ages, often after injuries like Thorstenson’s, using their own bone marrow and stem cells. His clinic specializes in replacing cartilage and helping the body replace lost meniscus, both of which are shock-absorbers.

In some ways, Thorstenson’s case was more extensive than most, involving four different aspects of surgery to both replace the padding between knee bones and heal the damage that had been done over the years.

She had the surgery on June 18 and is in recovery. She is going through physical therapy and is working to get off crutches.

“But I can definitely say I can feel a difference inside my knee,” she said. “Now I’m not even taking Tylenol anymore — I’m not having any pain.”

Both Stone and Thorstenson expect her to be back at full activity after the six-month recovery, a huge victory after being told she wouldn’t get better so many times.

“We’re very pleased with how her case came out,” Stone said.

Thorstenson is enthusiastic about the work at Stone Clinic, and encouraged others to keep looking for answers even when doctors say there aren’t any.

“I’m excited to be out again and back to full activity with my kids,” she said.

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