Amy Wasterlain, MD
Get to know Dr. Amy Wasterlain, hip and knee replacement surgeon at Middlesex Orthopedic & Spine Associates.View Profile
How did you get interested in joint replacement which is a male-dominated field?
I always knew I wanted to become a surgeon. As a kid, I became interested in quilting and was very geometrically focused. At first, I did not think that orthopedics was possible for me as a female. Then in medical school, I met a wonderful orthopedic resident who allowed me to shadow her. I quickly saw that orthopedics provided great patient outcomes and you can truly give people their quality of life back. Specifically, joint replacement outcomes are fantastic. It’s truly amazing that someone can come in with such debilitating pain and during a short surgery, you can completely remove it. Currently, only 3% of joint replacement surgeons are women, so I am definitely in the minority however I don’t feel that my gender has hindered me or played a major role in my experience as a surgeon. I have made strong connections with patients through not only my medical skillset but also my personal skills and bedside manner.
What is your practice philosophy?
The most important thing to me is to treat patients not their imaging findings or reports. Some patients experience more pain than x-rays would indicate, and others may have poor imaging yet their pain isn’t as strong – either way, we treat them as a human and focus on their goals in life. I would never demand surgery for a patient if they are doing well clinically regardless of what the imaging may show.
Why is it important to be seen by a specialist if you have joint pain?
Specialists can focus on different treatment levels in a more targeted way. For example, trying conservative treatment first is always appropriate yet it’s important not to drag it out for too long. Sometimes I see patients who have been managing their extreme pain for years who probably would’ve benefited from seeing a specialist sooner.
What trends are you seeing in joint replacement?
There has been a huge trend towards making hip and knee replacements outpatient procedures. We’ve been getting patients up sooner after surgery and getting them home quicker. There’s also been a push towards fewer restrictions on patients post-operatively. Where we used to worry about the longevity of implants, we are now realizing that we can put these implants through activities (such as tennis and hiking) sooner. Many of my patients who opt for a joint replacement do so to get back to an active lifestyle so returning them to activity becomes my primary goal. Since I do all my primary joint replacements with muscle-sparing technology in a minimally invasive way, that helps my patients get back up and moving even sooner.
What are your personal interests?
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two young children. I like to garden, cycle, ski and hike to stay active. I began quilting during childhood which likely sparked my love of geometry and precision leading to my interest in orthopedics. Actually, right now I’m making quilts specifically to hang up in my exam rooms in the office, which I’m excited about.