Doctor, Heal Thyself (without knee surgery)

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One of the best ways to prove that an idea or a method that you are not sure about makes

sense is to try it out for yourself or a loved one. When the positive response clearly changes

your ability to function, you can feel much more confident recommending such a treatment to

others.

 

Such was the case with my right knee 4 years ago. I injured it playing soccer and at first I felt it

was a typical strain, which I have had many times from athletics in the past. However, the pain

did not get better and in fact, kept feeling worse over about 10 months. An MRI Scan showed

significant tears involving the medial meniscus and a 70% tear of the medial collateral ligament

(MCL), which together provide much of the stability that a healthy knee needs to function. My

knee was far from healthy or stable – I could stand no more than about an hour at a time and I

could walk slowly about a mile. I could not run, swim in the ocean, walk on a sandy beach, kick

a soccer ball, or play tennis, and I had to quit a snow-skiing vacation halfway through the first

day because of severe pain.

 

Arthroscopic surgery was a consideration but a number of studies that have come out in the

last 10-15 years for treating knee meniscus tears with surgery are very discouraging. The

success rate is low – a disappointing 30-35% of patients are satisfied, and the surgery itself

causes about 80% of patients to be worse within the 8 years following the surgery than if they

had avoided the surgery altogether.

 

So after saying “nope” to the scope, I chose regenerative injections, using a combination of

Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentration (BMAC), Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP), and Dextrose

Prolotherapy. I had a total of 5 treatments, about 6-8 weeks apart. I started with BMAC/PRP

the first treatment, then PRP for the second and third treatments. I used Dextrose Prolotherapy

alone for the last two treatments because I was about 80% better after the three advanced

BMAC / PRP treatments. With each treatment I was clearly better, about 40% after the first

BMAC, and 20% better after each of the PRP treatments. In all, it took about 10 months to get

to the point that I could run, ski, swim, play tennis and kick a soccer ball without pain. And my

follow-up MRI Scan showed healing of my meniscus tear. My MCL tear is fully healed and is

now double the thickness of normal compared to before regenerative injections. I have not felt

any pain, swelling, catching, clicking or instability. I have run well over 200 miles since the knee

pain resolved 2 years ago.

 

I learned a lot through my knee journey. It is very easy for me to recommend regenerative

injections to my patients. I empathize with my patients even more than before my injury. It was

quite humbling to be as limited as I was before we started the process of healing my knee. I

also experienced the process of bone marrow aspiration (it was actually nearly pain-free and

very quick) and I was able to see the very rapid healing response that the PRP and BMAC

provide, when natural healing alone had completely plateaued. I have no hesitation at all

proceeding with PRP and BMAC for any future injuries that might come my way.

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