Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Total Joint Replacement in Eagle County

Thanks to the recent arrival of Dr. Nathan Cafferky residents and visitors suffering from arthritis and other conditions in the hips and knees now have the services of a local total joint surgeon.

When David Johnson for example learned last year Dr. Cafferky was coming aboard the staff at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics he decided to wait to have his surgery done closer to home rather than travel to Denver. The 46-year-old Grand Junction truck driver a devoted fisherman and hunter would begin each day feeling pretty good — but by noon the joint would become aggravated and by the end of the day it was completely fatigued.

The pain got so bad Johnson says he had to grab his pant leg to get his leg into his truck. He knew he needed a hip replacement and couldn't fathom the long drive to and from Denver for the procedure.

"I would go home and immediately get in the hot tub” says Johnson. “I was taking so much ibuprofen — it was never-ending. All that pain can make you really cranky. At first I thought I was having back problems. But an MRI finally diagnosed the real cause of my pain — bone-on-bone osteoarthritis in my hip.”

Dr. Cafferky told Johnson he didn't have much cartilage left in his hip and he needed to make a decision Johnson thought of his father who'd had a hip replaced years ago and ended up with a long incision.

“When Dr. Cafferky told me he could do an anterior approach that only required a 3- to 4-inch incision I was intrigued and relieved at the same time” says Johnson. “He told me the healing and recovery time is that much better because you don't have to cut through muscle. He did a fabulous job.”

Dr. Cafferky in fact had Johnson up and walking the same day as his surgery within a week he was down to one crutch and by the second week he was off crutches completely.

“I actually hurt less coming out of surgery than I did going in. I could get up out of a chair without hurting" Johnson says. "It was amazing.”

Johnson says he is looking forward to getting back to fishing hunting and spending time with family. But more than anything he's looking forward to having a normal life without pain.
“I now know the best hip surgeon in the country" he says. "He took my pain away and changed the quality of my life.”

As a fellowship-trained adult reconstruction specialist Dr. Cafferky brings a level of skill to the mountains that is allowing patients to get expert care closer to home. The most common conditions he treats are hip and knee arthritis ranging from osteoarthritis to rheumatoid arthritis to post-traumatic arthritis.

He did his fellowship training at the University of Colorado attended Loma Linda University School of Medicine and completed his residency at the Geisinger Orthopaedic Institute at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville PA.

After his training he was invited to join the team at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics providing hip and knee reconstruction services in Eagle and Summit counties.

“Dr. Cafferky is everything you want in a doctor” remarks Paul Donen 69 a longtime Eagle County resident and avid runner and hiker who injured a knee while hiking.

“I had to drag my leg down the last two miles” says Donen who had his first knee surgery back in the 1990s. “It was bone-on-bone back then due to years of long distance running and hiking” he explains. “The shoes were not the quality that we have today.”

Donen heard a new doctor was coming to Vail-Summit Orthopaedics so like Johnson he decided to wait.
“I knew I wanted to get it done so that I could start backcountry hiking before Christmas which I was able to achieve" Donen says. “He spoke to me in layman's terms. I said to myself 'I have the right doctor doing the right thing for me.'”
Donen has since gotten back to enjoying his usual active lifestyle taking short hikes and looking forward to endurance hiking as he progresses.

“So many of my friends are starting to say they might need a knee replacement" Donen says. "I am telling them they don't have to go to Denver.”

In addition to minimally invasive techniques Dr. Cafferky says another new exciting development is the use of computer navigation and robotic surgery.

“Plus implant companies are creating better joints than ever before. We're using joints made with the latest technologies which have the potential to last much longer than their predecessors" Dr. Cafferky says. "My goal is to work closely with my patients to establish realistic expectations so that they can get back to enjoying the things they like to do and reach their individual goals."

Newer technologies and techniques are improving patient satisfaction and outcomes he adds.
“Some of the new technologies include minimally invasive surgeries" Dr. Cafferky says. "Whether it's a posterior or anterior approach to the hip we are able to tailor the surgery appropriately to the patient and the patient's goals.”

Dr. Nathan Cafferky Vail-Summit Orthopaedics |
(970) 569-3240


1. X-rays show advanced arthritis or other joint damage.
2. You are unable to complete normal daily tasks without pain or assistance.
3. You are in significant pain daily and the pain keeps you from enjoying the activities you love.
4. The pain keeps you awake at night and doesn't stop when you rest during the day.
5. Walking is painful.
6. Getting ready for the day is difficult such as putting on shoes and socks.
7. You experience difficulty bending to pick things up off the floor.
8. Non-surgical treatments such as medicine physical therapy steroid shots and weight loss have not worked.