Back on the Trail: Multidisciplinary MUSC Health Joint Replacement Team


Just a few months after his knee replacement surgery at MUSC, Frank King took a hunting trip to South Dakota, logging seven pain-free miles each day. Always an active person, Frank had been sidelined by a knee so painful he could no longer enjoy the outdoor activities he loved.

Injection treatments by Dr. Jacob Drew at the Musculoskeletal Institute at the Medical University of South Carolina helped delay a need for surgery. Ultimately, Frank elected for a partial replacement, and he doesn’t regret it a bit. “Dr. Drew is young and up on the newest techniques. He answered all my questions and had a great bedside manor,” he says. “The surgery was completely worthwhile. I have no pain, am active again, and trust the team at MUSC completely.”

Joint replacements are increasingly common among middle-aged adults. The cause of joint conditions leading to replacement of the hips, shoulders, is often osteoarthritis or degenerative joint diseases. Patients with osteoarthritis (OA) experience a gradual loss of cartilage in their joints. As that firm, slippery tissue erodes, joint movement causes friction that leads to pain.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 27 million U.S. adults suffer from OA. Many experts believe active lifestyles that stress joints – for example jogging, tennis and basketball – can exacerbate OA. In a world where “60 is the new 40” adults are more active longer than in generations past. A desire to remain active can also make adults impatient with increasing pain. Conversely, sedentary lifestyles contribute to arthritis by causing excess weight or limiting movement. Additionally, women are more likely to be affected with knee arthritis than men, especially if they are overweight.

“The surgery was completely worthwhile. I have no pain, am active again, and trust the team at MUSC completely.”

More than one million total hip and knee replacements are now performed each year in the U.S. Shoulder replacements, at 53,000 a year, are less common.

MUSC Health’s Joint Replacement Program is uniquely suited to performing all three of these surgeries, performing nearly 700 each year, including offering special expertise in complex revision joint replacement procedures. As part of the Musculoskeletal Institute, the program applies an interdisciplinary approach to bone health. Patients are seen as real people with mobility challenges, not merely joint problems. The Institute is staffed with experts who have devoted their professional careers to joint replacement surgery and have received additional training in surgical treatment of arthritis.

“For many patients, appropriate medical inventions provide a reasonable alternative to joint replacement surgery,” said Vincent Pellegrini, M.D.

The Joint Commission – an independent, not-for-profit organization that certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States – has recognized MUSC MSKI for its excellence with the distinction of specialty certification in all three areas of total hip, knee and shoulder replacement surgery. Indeed, U.S. News & World Report has ranked MUSC as the #1 orthopaedic program in South Carolina.

“For many patients, appropriate medical inventions provide a reasonable alternative to joint replacement surgery,” said Vincent Pellegrini, M.D., chair of the Departments of Orthopaedics. “Medication, exercise, physical therapy, and injections can effectively prolong an individual’s mobility. Our integrated team of experts will evaluate every patient individually to determine the most appropriate and the best timing for surgery, if and when it is indicated.”

Health professionals discourage patients from waiting too long, and suffering needlessly. A CDC study found that individuals in need of a knee replacement described their overall pre-operation health as poor. Commonly after surgery, most patients appreciate their renewed, pain-free movement, and wonder why they waited so long.

Once medical interventions are no longer effective – and a patient is suffering from “bone on bone” arthritis – join replacement may be the answer. “If you’re truly at the end of your rope, we have people ready to help,” said Dr. Harry Demos.

Dr. Richard Friedman adds, “Our team approach distinguishes the care received at MUSC and out commitment to innovation and constant improvement ensures that our advanced care will always be the best available for patients before and after joint replacement.”

We offer next-day appointment scheduling. If your arthritis is limiting your lifestyle, call today – 843-876-0111 – to meet with one of our four, fellowship-trained specialists in arthritis care and total joint replacement:

  • Harry A. Demos, M.D.
  • Jacob M. Drew, M.D.
  • Richard J. Friedman, M.D.
  • Vincent D. Pellegrini, Jr., M.D.

To learn more about the Musculoskeletal Institute, the MUSC Health Joint Replacement team, or the many other MUSC Orthopaedic programs, including sports medicine, orthopaedic oncology, trauma, osteoporosis management and fracture care, and spine care for adults and youth, visit