Arlington Citizen-Journal

Arlington doctor part of FDA study on device that could ease chronic knee pain

Patient Jon Foerster is having meniscus replacement surgery performed by Dr. Joseph Berman to repair his damaged knee. They are part of an FDA-approved study to test a new device that could bring relief to thousands of people who suffer chronic knee pain.
Patient Jon Foerster is having meniscus replacement surgery performed by Dr. Joseph Berman to repair his damaged knee. They are part of an FDA-approved study to test a new device that could bring relief to thousands of people who suffer chronic knee pain. rmallison@star-telegram.com

Jon Foerster was forced to cut way back on his active lifestyle after he tore his meniscus playing kickball five years ago, but a recent FDA-approved study could help ease his persistent knee pain.

After years of playing the sports he loved and running to stay in shape, the pain Foerster, 44, of Denton, had following his injury made it hard to sleep through the night after if he tried to do as little as walk a mile, even after surgery. But the biggest problem was he could not keep up with his two sons, 1-year-old Kaden and 6-year-old Logan.

“I was wondering when something would come out that would help,” Foerster said. “There are no other options at my age other than contending with the pain and slowing your whole lifestyle down.”

Foerster became the first person in Texas, and one of the first in the U.S., to receive a NUsurface meniscus implant through an FDA-approved study with Arlington Orthopedic Associates, said Dr. Joseph Berman.

“Within six to eight weeks, he should be essentially pain-free,” Berman said.

The device, made of a medical-grade plastic, should allow Foerster to resume a higher level of physical activity, and decreases the risk of early onset arthritis, Berman said.

Acting as a shock absorber and a spacer to the inside of the knee, the device — which has been used in Europe since 2008 and Israel since 2011 — mimics the meniscus, a tissue pad between the thigh and shin bones, Berman said.

More than a million partial meniscectomies to take out or restore a torn meniscus are performed in the U.S. each year, close to the number of hip and knee replacement surgeries combined.

However, many patients like Foerster experience persistent knee pain after meniscus surgery.

When a physician tells a patient a part of their meniscus will be removed, Berman said, their first question is “What are you going to put back in?”

“My answer today is nothing,” Berman said. “Because we don’t have anything, but my answer in the future might be a NUsurface, and that would revolutionize the industry.”

About 120 patients will be enrolled in the study as a part of the regulatory process to get approval from the FDA.

“There aren’t many options for patients who experience persistent knee pain following meniscus surgery,” Berman said. “The NUsurface implant offers the hope of alleviating pain and swelling in these patients with chronic problems. We may well be able to help delay or even avoid knee replacement surgery, allowing these patients to get back to activities they love.”

Foerster has already planned a ski trip for March to test his surrogate meniscus.

“My kids are the top thing I am looking forward to,” Foerster said. “I looked down the road at a lot of things and had to prepare myself with what I could or couldn’t do, but being able to get out and run again, and not having as many issues is a close second.”

Rafael Sears: 817-390-7657, @searsrafael

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