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Cruising toward a pain-free life

By The Health News Team | June 17, 2024
Louie Munoz of San Diego

Louie Muñoz received surgery for knee arthritis at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center after experiencing pain for a decade.

Louie Muñoz lived with chronic pain in both of his knees for a decade before finally discovering the treatment that worked for him.

Louie, who lives in south San Diego and is a father to two sons, works in a deli and spends many hours on his feet helping customers. In fact, most days, he spends 10 hours standing.

While Louie has always enjoyed his job, especially the opportunity to work with one of his sons, it was taking a toll. Over time, he began experiencing pain in his knees.

Louie sought care from a doctor in his community, who recommended nonsurgical treatment. When the treatment failed to relieve his pain, Louie decided to seek a second opinion from Dr. Nick Kusnezov, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with Sharp HealthCare.

A second opinion offers a second wind

“When I first met Mr. Muñoz, I could tell he was in a great deal of pain,” Dr. Kusnezov says. “He is a very stoic gentleman, but he could barely walk. I knew this was really bothering him.”

According to Dr. Kusnezov, Louie had compensated for his severe knee arthritis over the past decade by dialing back his activity level to the point that he was unable to live an active lifestyle or do the things he loved. “It was really important to me to help get him back to being able to do those things,” Dr. Kusnezov says.

Louie asked Dr. Kusnezov if he thought surgery could eliminate his pain. When Dr. Kusnezov said yes, Louie felt confident it was the right treatment option for him.

“It was clear that Mr. Muñoz had exhausted conservative management by the time I saw him,” Dr. Kusnezov says. “With a condition like arthritis, I always try to start with the least invasive but evidence-based treatments, including physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and injections. Ultimately, though, surgical management is a great treatment option if all else fails and the pain is significantly limiting a patient’s life.”

In Louie’s case, Dr. Kusnezov felt confident that the only reliable treatment left to address his severe knee arthritis was a total knee replacement on both sides. “I knew I could make a dramatic difference in his pain, his function and his life,” Dr. Kusnezov says.

Smooth seas ahead

Louie’s surgery was scheduled at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, which features state-of-the-art surgical suites for orthopedic procedures and many other conditions. He felt excited as he and his wife arrived at the hospital, checked in and were quickly brought back to the surgery area to get ready for his procedure.

The surgery was successful, and Louie recovered so well — including being able to go home the same day — that surgery on his other knee was scheduled for six weeks later. He is now doing physical therapy to strengthen function in both of his knees and looks forward to returning to the activities he used to be able to enjoy, including one special activity with his sons.

“I can’t wait to get back out on a boat with my boys and go deep sea fishing,” Louie says.

For people experiencing pain on a daily basis like he was, Louie encourages them to not spend too long in pain and to be advocates for themselves. He recommends that they talk with their primary care doctor about what they’re feeling.

“You don’t have to live in pain,” Louie says. “I wish I hadn’t, but I also wouldn’t change a thing because if those 10 years are what it took for me to meet Dr. Kusnezov, they were worth it.”

Meet orthopedic experts, enjoy interactive booths, receive free screenings and more at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center’s free Bone and Joint Health Expo on Saturday, June 22. To learn more or to register, call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277) or visit

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