POV: your doctor says you need joint surgery – but you don’t want to have it.
Tell me if this sounds familiar: lately you’ve been experiencing pain in one of your joints. It might have come on from an injury you remember – while cross-fitting, running, a bike accident, playing tennis or pickle ball or flag football or golf. Or it might have gradually appeared over time, from repetitive use while gardening or carrying groceries or sitting at your computer in an uncomfortable chair while working from home for the last two years. Or maybe you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis and are experiencing that stiffness and ache that accompanies it. You’ve likely reduced or stopped your favorite activities, bought a brace to wear, gone to PT, or the chiropractor, or gotten a massage, or started taking the occasional (or more than occasional) pain killers.
At some point, one of your doctors recommended an X-ray, which didn’t tell you much. More PT and rest and pain killers were recommended. Then an MRI was ordered, and you were diagnosed with injured tissue — possibly a rotator cuff or labral tear of the shoulder, a meniscus/ACL/MCL injury of the knee, a torn hip labrum, or swelling or damage to the soft tissue of your ankles, elbow, or wrist. Or you discovered that your arthritis has worsened.
You weren’t given many options at this point. Most likely a cortisone shot or two was suggested to see if it could reduce the pain, but your doctor is pretty sure that the next step to getting you healed and back on your feet is surgery.
Here’s the thing though — surgery doesn’t feel right. Maybe you’re worried about the cost, or the anesthesia, or a complication, or the pain after the procedure, or how long the downtime and recovery process will take.
So many of the patients who walk into our office found us for this very reason.
Today I want to talk about your other options, and how we approach healing from joint injury and arthritis from a naturopathic, holistic, regenerative perspective.
When your joints become more than mildly injured, whether from a fall or accident or the wear and tear that created arthritis, they often need extra support to fully heal. There may be tears in your ligaments (the soft tissue zip ties that hold our bones together) or tendons (the ends of our muscles, where they attach into our bones), or there might be damage to the cartilage (the cushy layer that covers the ends of your bones and prevents them from rubbing together). One way to treat the injury is to have surgery done: to make an incision, sew the damaged pieces back together, stitch up the incision, and let you recover. Another way is to inject a healing substance into the joint itself and stimulate your body’s healing cells to do the repair work for you.
There are two types of Regenerative Injection Treatments (RITs) we use daily in our office to allow the body to heal itself from the inside out, without having to go undergo the trauma of surgery. These therapies allow you to avoid general anesthesia, having an incision, having stitches, resting for days to weeks as the incision heals, and months of recovery PT.
The techniques and process are largely the same, but the healing solutions we use are different.
Prolotherapy: for mild and recent injuries.
Prolotherapy is a treatment that uses 25% sugar water to nourish the cells that lay down new connective tissue and allow for joint repair. We inject the sugar water into the places that are injured which stimulates a healing cascade. Over the next few weeks, those healing cells “turn on” and start laying down new healthy soft tissue to repair and tighten damaged ligaments and tendons. After the procedure we recommend taking it easy on lifting other motions that stress the joint we just treated for 10 days. You’ll notice full results of the treatment around 3.5-4 weeks. Depending on the injured severity, you’ll likely need 3-4 treatments spaced 1 month apart to fully recover, and should experience around 30% lasting improvement following each treatment.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy: for moderate injuries and arthritis repair.
PRP therapy is a step-up from Prolotherapy to heal injured, aging, or degenerated joints. In the appointment we’ll do a blood draw and spin your blood down in a spacial machine that isolates particularly powerful healing cells called platelets. We then inject your own platelets into the areas of soft tissue damage. When the platelets come in contact with the site of injury, they release growth factors that stimulate tissue healing, which repairs the injury from the inside out. This is the better treatment for more severe injuries or arthritis.
Benefits of Regenerative Injection Therapy (RIT):
- NO surgery!
- No downtime – we recommend avoiding intense activity for 10 days, but you can walk and move around as normal right after the appointment.
- No months of PT
- 30% or more decrease in pain and improvement in mobility
- No risk of scar tissue overgrowth following surgery that can cause additional pain and restriction in motion
- Generally less expensive than surgery and recovery copays
- No need to take pain killers while you recover
What to Expect:
- There is some risk of bruising.
- There is likely to be aching after the procedure for 1-2 days.
- To prevent infection we’ll have you avoid hot tubs, baths, pools, or heavy sweating for 48 hours after your procedure.
- Day to day activities can continue, but we’ll have you avoid heavy lifting and exertion that effects the treatment site for 10 days.
If your doctor has recommended joint surgery and you are curious about other options that can help you heal with less pain, cost, risk, and downtime, we offer 15 minute complimentary phone consults to discuss your history and see if Regenerative Injection Therapies are right for you.
Curious about Regenerative Injections to heal your joint pain or injury? Click here to schedule your complimentary consult with Dr. Storm.