A Winning Audible

Retired NFL star opts for regenerative therapy over knee surgery.

Eddie George had aspirations of playing running back in the NFL for as long as he can remember. His father’s enthusiasm for the game and particularly that position was a major motivation for Eddie’s ambitions.

Eddie George

“My father loved football and loved following running backs such as Jim Brown, Franco Harris and O.J. Simpson,” Eddie, 47, recalls. “He talked about them with such admiration and passion, and I wanted my father to talk about me the same way. I had dreams of accomplishing great things within the game of football.”

And so he did.

In 1992, Eddie was recruited out of Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia to play football at The Ohio State University. In 1995, Eddie’s stellar play at Ohio State won him the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to college football’s most outstanding player. That recognition and his ongoing excellence on the field earned Eddie a position as a first-round pick in the 1996 NFL draft.

“I was drafted by the Houston Oilers and won Rookie of the Year in 1996,” Eddie reminisces. “I was part of the team’s move from Houston to Nashville, where we became the Tennessee Titans. I played eight seasons with Tennessee and one with the Dallas Cowboys.”

Eddie retired in 2006 as the Oilers/Titans’ all-time leading rusher and the only running back in NFL history to record 300 or more carries in eight consecutive seasons. He also played in the Super Bowl after the 1999 season (losing to the St. Louis Rams).

“My proudest moment in football has to be winning the Heisman Trophy,” Eddie reflects. “But going to the Super Bowl with the Titans, considering all we’d gone through in the organization, was also a proud moment. There was a feeling we’d accomplished something. That was a great time in my life.”

Playing football at any level puts intense pressure on the joints. As a professional running back for nine years, Eddie’s knees took a relentless pounding, and the consistent wear and tear culminated in a painful degenerative arthritis.

“My knee problem was something that progressed gradually over the years,” Eddie explains. “There wasn’t any acute injury. I developed bone spurs, loose bodies floating in my knees. They were so big, they cut into my ACLs and sprained them. I had the bone spurs cleaned out, but my knees were still pretty banged up.

“My knees were painful, and it was difficult to get full flexion with them. It was uncomfortable to sit on planes or in cars for long periods because my knees would lock up. The pain interfered with many of my everyday activities, including working out, walking and golfing. It was really affecting my quality of life, and I was facing surgery.

“Then a few years ago, I met Jason Griffeth and his team one day while we were both in Ohio. They told me about the regenerative medicine process they offer, and I was really intrigued by it. They said, Come down to Florida. We’ll treat your knees and see how it works for you.

Jason Griffeth, MS, is a regenerative medicine scientist at Regenerative Biologics Institute in Vero Beach. RBI is one of the few clinics in the country that has both stem cell scientists and physicians working together to provide the best possible stem cell-based regenerative therapies for treating arthritic or injured joints.

“I went to Florida and held Jason and his team to their word,” Eddie shares. “Their process was amazing!”

Heal and Repair

“Eddie played in the NFL for nine years, and all of that activity on his knees resulted in significant pain, tissue damage and arthritis,” Jason discloses. “He was facing major joint replacement surgery but hoped to avoid that. He elected to undergo one of our regenerative injection therapies instead of having surgery.

“Regenerative therapies are the only treatments available that have been shown in studies to heal and repair joints and reverse some of the degeneration that occurs with arthritis. The goal of our regenerative therapies is to restore the joint to a healthier state, which leads to a substantial reduction in pain, increased mobility, improved quality of life and the potential to avoid surgery.”

RBI offers multiple regenerative injection therapies, but they all have one thing in common. They treat the underlying cause of pain instead of simply masking the symptoms, which is common with traditional orthopedic injections such as cortisone and hyaluronic acid injections.

“At RBI, our signature regenerative therapy is TruGenta Injection Therapy, which uses mesenchymal stem cells.” Jason states. “For this therapy, we retrieve millions of those stem cells from the patient, combine them with platelet rich plasma taken from the patient’s blood and inject the resulting mixture into the patient’s damaged joint.”

Mesenchymal stem cells are naturally programmed to heal and repair soft tissue and work in several steps. Once injected into the area of need, such as a knee, hip or shoulder joint, they adhere to the local tissues and bone, and begin to replicate.

“The stem cells then crowd the area and start to fuse together,” Jason observes. “This fusion can potentially result in the formation of new tissue. Adding platelet rich plasma and other bioactive growth factors further stimulates the mesenchymal stem cells to grow within the joints.”

Another regenerative injection therapy that is now available at RBI is a variation of platelet rich plasma, or PRP, called the GFX Injection Therapy. It is PRP that is enhanced with lots of additional growth factors.

“The GFX therapy combines PRP with amniotic fluid-derived growth factors,” Jason explains. “These growth factors help stimulate healing & repair even more. They also recruit other stem cells from around the body to the area it is injected.

“RBI now offers more non-surgical regenerative injection therapies than ever to treat all stages of osteoarthritis and other orthopedic conditions. Both the TruGenta™ and GFX™ injections can help to better form new tissue in patients with severely degenerated joints, particularly those who have lost so much cartilage that they are in a bone-on-bone situation.”

“I Felt Amazing”

A few years ago at RBI, Eddie received the traditional TruGenta Injection Therapy. At first, Eddie was concerned he might be out of commission for a week or two following the injection, but he was pleased to learn the treatment required no downtime.

“The treatment wasn’t uncomfortable, and I was literally in and out the same day,” Eddie relates. “It took 30 minutes to have my stem cells extracted, and they said it would take about an hour and a half to process the stem cells and PRP, so I went to lunch.

“When I went back, the injection was ready and the shot was very quick. I received one injection treatment in each of my knees, and afterward, I felt amazing. Now, my knees feel great, and I’m able to do many of the things I had trouble with before.

“Getting in and out of the car is not as uncomfortable as it once was. Before, it took me forever to get my body moving, but now I can get up and walk with no problem. And I’m golfing all the time. In fact, I’m able to get out of bed and swing a golf club without having to really warm up. I’ve gotten my competitive edge back without a surgeon’s blade.

“The regenerative injection therapy at RBI helped me tremendously. It’s done wonders for my life. It prevented me from having to undergo joint replacement surgery, which I’m very happy about. The treatment has been so good that I have sent my wife and others to get treated at RBI, even my dentist. And now I am returning to RBI to get my arthritic shoulder treated!”

 

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