“You want to keep moving, we’ll keep you moving.”

“It is very disheartening. You’ve retired from teaching, you can’t wait to have those free mornings and go do whatever you want with your friendsand then to not even feel like getting up and walking some mornings is pretty tough to take.”

Donna holds her knee while sitting in a chair at a pickleball game.
“My knee was so swollen, I had a hard time standing up in practice and moving around.”

Not every sports injury is dramatic. Sometimes it’s more subtle–a long, slow wear-and-tear that happens over decades. But if you’re an active person, it can be just as devastating, requiring just as much expertise to help you keep living the life you love. That’s what happened to Donna Martin.

Donna leans into a swing to hit the ball back during a pickleball game.
“Just keep moving. When you stop moving, that’s when you really get yourself in trouble.”

Donna is someone who needs to stay active. She’s spent her entire life cheering, playing basketball, playing tennis, coaching, walking, and now playing pickleballa paddle-ball sport that combines tennis, badminton and table tennis. She started playing after she retired from her job as a high school teacher.

News clippings, trophies, and plaques from Donna Martin's time as a cheerleading coach.
Donna is retired from her job as a teacher, but she’s still incredibly active in her role as a cheerleading coach.

“I play four or five days a week, and even more in the summer. It’s one of the most addicting things I’ve ever done. It is so addicting and people that get into it stay into it. And they’re there almost every day.”

Donna prepares to serve the ball at a pickleball game.
“Pickleball is very social, but yet it's activity. You play a lot of games quickly, and you play with different people all day.”

Aside from being a pickleball player, Donna is a cheerleading coach at Dunbar High School. When Donna began to experience severe swelling in her knees, Cody Begleya University of Kentucky athletic trainer and Dunbar High School’s trainernoticed Donna’s discomfort during practices and encouraged her to seek help at UK HealthCare’s Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine.

Dr. Kyle Smoot and Dr. Stephen Duncan helped Donna pinpoint the source of her pain: arthritis. Dr. Duncan recommended corticosteroid injections in her knees so that Donna could continue being active without needing to proceed directly into a more drastic intervention like surgery. It was important to Donna that she be able to stay active as long as possiblea habit she’s kept up her whole life.

Donna works with her physical therapist on her knee.
Cody Begley, the athletic trainer at Dunbar, encouraged Donna to seek advanced care for her knees.

“I can’t imagine a week without going to some type of athletic activity, either doing something myself or attending one. There’s probably never been a week in my life that I haven’t been on a bleacher somewhere or doing something myself.”

Donna sits on a patient's bench while her physical therapist talks to her about her knee.
“Cody's like a gentle giant. He really listens and notices things that are going on.”

The treatment plan that Donna and Dr. Duncan developed has allowed Donna to continue the life that she loves. “He doesn’t try to hold me back,” Donna said. “He tells me to keep moving and that’s what I want to be able to do.” By wearing knee braces and continuing regular injections, Donna can continue to play pickleball on a daily basisstaying active, healthy and social.

Donna smiles and laughs with a competitor on the other side of the net.
Donna plays pickleball four to five times a week—and she intends to keep it up. “I'm going to just keep doing what I'm doing for as long as it's working.”

“If I hadn’t found a way to keep inflammation down, and hope that I can always stay active, I think I would have been bored out of my mind. I can’t imagine not getting up and having an agenda for every day. I’m just never going to be that person.”

Donna smiles while at a pickleball game.
“Don't accept that there's just one option. There's a lot of options out there that allow you to stay active.”

See how we care for patients like Donna

at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine.

Coach Calipari watches his team play a basketball game with a full stadium behind him.Arin sits in a Chicago Red Stars chair in the locker room with her cleats around her neck and soccer ball at her feet.