Don’t Get Out Of Joint

Say no to surgery; let injection of healing factors rebuild degenerated cushion

 Tom DeLaura is about to live a dream. The avid golfer is delaying his return to New Jersey for the summer to travel across the pond to play the world’s oldest — and most celebrated — golf course. 

“We usually stay in Florida until the middle of May, but this year I’m going on a bucket list trip with both my boys to Scotland to play St. Andrews Links, the ‘Home of Golf,’ ” Tom enthuses. “I’m really looking forward to it. 

“We’ve been to Pebble Beach in California and some other famous courses in Arizona, Texas and Florida. One of my sons is the head pro at the Crestmont Country Club in New Jersey, so he makes all the arrangements.” 

His other son runs the family business for Tom, 72, a semi-retired restaurateur.

“I’ve owned a restaurant in New Jersey for 34 years, since 1989,” Tom elaborates. “I live in Florida seven months of the year and then go up north in the summer. My son manages the restaurant, and when I’m in New Jersey for the summer, I still help out.

“The restaurant is a bar and grill called Grant Street Cafe. We’re famous for our thin-crust pizza, mussels, burgers and sandwiches. We also serve Italian dishes. And for three straight years, we’ve been voted Bergen County’s best craft beer bar in a local magazine’s reader poll.”

Credit Tom’s vast experience for the success of Grant Street Cafe. He’s been in the restaurant business for most of his life.

“It’s all I’ve ever done, and I love it,” he states. “I started out parking cars, and then I became a bartender. I always wanted my own place, and I was fortunate enough to make that happen and succeed at it.”

When he’s not busy with the restaurant, Tom spends most of his free time golfing, fishing and visiting the beach with his wife. A few years back, however, a health issue began to slow this active septuagenarian.

“I’ve exercised all my life,” Tom relates. “I’ve done a lot of weight training, running and swimming. Then, about four years ago, my right shoulder started hurting, and it was progressively deteriorating. I visited an orthopedic surgeon in New Jersey who said I was a candidate for shoulder replacement. I said, That’s not going to happen. Only as a last resort.”

Revealing Evaluation

By November 2020, Tom’s shoulder had grown extremely painful, and the discomfort was interfering with his everyday activities and many of his leisure pursuits.

“The pain was both sharp and aching, and it rated an eight on a scale of one to 10,” Tom reveals. “It was constant and getting worse. I 

could only lift my arm a little bit. I couldn’t ride my bike because leaning over hurt my shoulder. Worst of all, it kept me from sleeping. Let’s face it, we can go without a lot of things, but not without sleep.

“Believe it or not, I could still golf. Apparently, the downward swing doesn’t affect your shoulder that much. But I’d be really sore the following day. And I knew my shoulder was getting to the point where soon I wouldn’t be able to golf at all.

“Fishing was painful. It bothered me to cast my line. The next day, I’d wake up with that shoulder aching. The motion of throwing out the line or reeling in a fish would cause my shoulder to hurt.”

With Tom in severe pain and adamant about avoiding shoulder surgery, his wife recommended he visit her physician, Dr. Jeffrey P. Johnson, the principal provider at Johnson Medical Center, a comprehensive medical practice in Venice.

Dr. Johnson performed a complete workup on Tom. Those tests revealed that Tom was suffering from what Dr. Johnson described as “nearly bone-on-bone arthritis” in his right shoulder.

“Fortunately, Tom still had some natural tissue left in the joint that we could build on,” Dr. Johnson adds. “That made him an excellent candidate for our regenerative therapy protocol.”

Body, Heal Thyself

A novel treatment in Dr. Johnson’s arsenal against pain is regenerative therapy. It works by harnessing natural healing factors in the body to provide cushioning to degenerated and injured joints to help relieve pain and improve function. These healing factors, which can help stimulate the body’s ability to heal are either extracted from a younger person’s own blood or supplemented by utilizing amniotic fluid collected during healthy baby deliveries.

“With the growth factors, we inject another material called micro human tissue, which contains a high concentration of the vibrant substances that promote the body’s healing ability.”

The micro human tissue is obtained from umbilical cords donated by mothers following healthy births. The umbilical cord has protective tissue that surrounds the arteries and veins and is a vital component of fetus development. 

Johnson Medical Center’s regenerative therapy protocol begins with a thorough evaluation to determine if the patient is a good candidate and to identify any other contributing conditions which may need to be addressed to ensure favorable outcomes.

“A mixture of purified amniotic fluid and micro human tissue requires a single injection with our protocol,” Dr. Johnson explains. “These are the most effective tissues we use to treat these conditions and promote healing.”

“Depending on the patient, our protocol may also include physical medicine to help improve their function and IV nutritional and/or IV ozone therapy to help boost the immune system and improve their ability to heal faster. Injections are less invasive than surgery and patients recover much faster, Dr. Johnson points out. Further, there is a very low risk for complications such as bleeding and infection, which can occur with joint replacement and other types of surgery. 

“Regenerative therapy provides an option for patients with conditions that I would have previously referred for surgery,” Dr. Johnson declares. “It’s been a terrific addition to our practice, where we also use rehabilitation therapy, laser therapy, chiropractic and other modalities to assist with the process of rehabilitating damaged joints. The goal is for the treatment to be a long-term restorative event, not just a short-term fix.

“Most importantly, it works. We’re seeing tremendous results with our regenerative therapy protocol. Within weeks of beginning treatment, patients are experiencing terrific relief from their joint pain. In a matter of months, we’re seeing an increase in the cushioning and true healing of the joint. You don’t see that level of healing with joint replacement or other surgery.”

At Johnson Medical Center, regenerative therapy injections are administered by Mahendra Poonai, RN, APRN, FNP-BC, under ultrasound guidance, which ensures appropriate placement at the site of the degeneration and/or injury.

“Mahendra has traveled across the country to receive the best training in regenerative medicine techniques,”
Dr. Johnson maintains. “He has developed expertise in using ultrasound to get the enriched plasma and micro human tissue exactly where they need to be for the treatment to be the most effective. It is a very precise technique, and Mahendra does it well.”

Lasting Results

Tom underwent the regenerative therapy protocol at Johnson Medical Center in March 2021. He noticed some improvement in his condition while receiving the treatment. Its full effect was realized within two months of completing the therapy.

“After the enriched plasma injections, I told Dr. Johnson that my shoulder was already feeling a little better,” Tom reports. “Then, after I received the micro human tissue injection and started physical therapy, my shoulder got progressively better.

“A couple of months later, I had no problem lifting my arm. I could raise it like a kid in class. I was back riding my bike. And where I used to hurt the day after golfing, I felt like I could play again the next day. Fishing didn’t bother me, either.” 

Best of all, Tom was able to sleep. 

“That’s pretty much where I am right now,” he says. “Sometimes, my shoulder aches a little bit, but the pain is only about a two, if that, on a scale of one to 10. But I’m 72 years old. I can’t expect to feel like a 25-year-old anymore. Still, I’m not restricted. I can do almost anything I want.”

For Tom, the physical therapy component of the protocol proved critical to his continuing success.

“During the treatment process and afterward, I was doing physical therapy,” he confirms. “Even now, when I go home in the summertime, I do physical therapy every day. Whenever you have any kind of injury, or if you just want to keep yourself in shape, you’ve got to work at it. And that’s what I do.”

He has great respect for his primary provider at Johnson Medical Center.

“Dr. Johnson is great,” Tom raves. “He knows how to manipulate my shoulder for the best results. The problem is that when I go home to New Jersey I can’t find anybody who can do the same process. 

“He told me, Find somebody and have them give me a call. Sometimes, though, doctors don’t want to get on the phone and ask, What are you doing for him? They’ve got their own ideas. But when I’m in Florida, I wouldn’t consider anybody other than
Dr. Johnson.” 

BY Roy Cummings
Florida Health Care News 

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    • Johnson Medical Center

      Dr. Jeffery P. Johnson has practiced in Venice, Florida since 1986. His practice is focused on treating patients with many conditions, including those that are not responding to conventional treatments such as physical therapy, chiro... Read More

    • Jeffrey P. Johnson, DC

      Jeffrey P. Johnson, DC, has been in private practice since 1986. At Johnson Medical Center, Venice’s premier, fully integrated medical clinic, Dr. Johnson and his team can treat every member of the family. The practice specializes in di... Read More