Coastal Orthopedics joint replacement specialist Dr. David Cashen tailors surgery to meet patient’s pickleball goals

Jonni Gonso

Jonni Gonso isn’t one to shy away from a challenge.

So when the clinical psychologist had to have a right knee replacement in April 2019, she only had one request for Dr. David Cashen: to not let it hinder her pickleball game.

During her initial consultation with Dr. Cashen, a joint replacement specialist for Coastal Orthopedics, Jonni, who competed in the Minto US OPEN Pickleball Championships and the Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships in 2018, discussed her goals for the surgery. She had one goal in mind —  to win a gold medal in pickleball when she turned 70.

“When asked ‘what do you hope to get out of this’, most people say they want to be out of pain,” says Jonni, who resides in Indiana. “I said I want to play competitive pickleball again, and he said ‘Okay then.’ I just really appreciated his ability to listen to my goals.”

Jonni had been dealing with the long-term effects of bone-on-bone pain in her right knee for more than 20 years. At the beginning of 2019, her knee took a turn for the worse when she learned she had a patellar subluxation, a partial dislocation of the kneecap. She reached a point where she couldn’t straighten her knee, and it became difficult to walk up the stairs.

Most importantly, it was hindering her pickleball game.

For years, Jonni had heard about how she may need to have a knee replacement one day. She just assumed it was a minor injury that could easily be fixed, but her worst fear was confirmed when an x-ray revealed the bone had essentially been ground down to nothing.

“I left there crying,” says Jonni. “Sometime in the future I thought I would need it, but I’d always just been in denial.”

Jonni began researching the procedure and spoke with her good friend Courtland Jackson, the director of finance for Coastal Orthopedics, who encouraged her to meet with Dr. Cashen. She flew down to Florida for an initial consultation in March 2019, and after discussing her options with Dr. Cashen, she scheduled the surgery for the following month. 

“In 1983, I had my ACL repaired in my right knee. One of the things I really liked about Dr. Cashen was that he looked at my x-ray and right away recognized that the procedure had been done – without me having to say anything about it.”

From a tailored surgery and device to a caring nursing staff, Dr. Cashen and the Coastal Orthopedics team went above and beyond to listen to what Jonni had to say and make sure her surgery was a success.

“One of the things I really liked about Coastal Orthopedics is how conscientious they are about infection,” says Jonni. “Everything was designed for the patient’s best results.

Following her surgery, Jonni began physical therapy that afternoon. She spent the next four weeks strengthening her knee enough to bend it and to walk on her own without the use of a walker or cane before flying home and returning to work.

Jonni continued physical therapy at home and by mid-June she was back on the pickleball court doing drills. By July 7, she was once again playing competitive pickleball. Jonni plays pickleball three to five days a week. In October 2019, she participated in a four-day advanced pickleball academy with national pickleball champion Sarah Ansboury, which included a round-robin tournament.