Ease Osteoarthritis Pain Without Surgery

An alternative to joint replacement: TruWell Health’s comprehensive treatment program

Dorothy Egan

For a quarter-century, Dorothy Egan was employed by a company that developed cathode ray tubes for the television industry – a product that’s all but extinct. She started out in an entry-level position and worked her way up to middle management, all while her employer progressed through multiple transformations.

“The company started out as GTE. Then it was purchased by Holland Electronics and eventually North American Philips,” Dorothy recounts. “I acquisitioned materials for the business, which consisted of 38 divested companies under one roof. Any company named Philips with one ‘L’ was part of North American Philips.

“We were originally based in Seneca Falls, New York. Later on, the company transferred its main headquarters to Ann Arbor, Michigan.”

Dorothy, 80, had lived most of her life in Shortsville, a small town in New York’s Finger Lakes Region. Last year, she found herself quarantined inside her Shortsville home for a month after contracting COVID-19 while hospitalized with a broken leg.

Her daughter, who journeyed north from Florida to help care for her mother, encouraged Dorothy to relocate to the Sunshine State once she recuperated.

“Because of my age and the things that can happen as I become older, my daughter felt it would be better if I lived closer to her,” Dorothy shares. “I’ve traveled to Florida for the winters for several years, but now I’m in the process of becoming a Florida resident.”

Dorothy’s leg healed. However, intense pain in both knees continued due to osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease in which the tissues of a joint break down over time.

“I’ve had problems with my knees for quite a few years, and each year it got worse,” Dorothy declares. “It finally went from bone spurs to bone-on-bone arthritis, and when it did, I had 10-level pain in my left knee and eight-level pain in my right knee.

“I have stairs at my home, and the pain was so bad that I had to stand sideways and go up and down one leg at a time. I like to garden, which requires getting on my knees. I could get down OK, but to get up I needed all my will and something to lean on.”

While seeking medical help for the problem, Dorothy was told she would soon require knee replacement surgery. Dorothy didn’t want to undergo surgery, however, so she began a search for a nonsurgical alternative. She was a bit dubious, though, because a previous attempt at treating her pain failed so badly that it caused her even more discomfort.

“I tried an injection program while I was living in New York, but those injections didn’t come close to easing the pain,” Dorothy laments. “The provider, in my opinion, had no advanced knowledge of how to inject a needle. They had this new medication, but when the nurse injected it, all of a sudden, my knee felt like hot burning coals.

“I was supposed to receive three injections, but I stopped the treatment after the second one and spoke with my pharmacist about the medication they used. He said that burning feeling should not have been one of the side effects, so by the time I got to Florida, I was quite skeptical.”

Dorothy’s doubt was challenged when her daughter told her about a friend who achieved great improvement in pain and mobility after visiting Lora L. Brown, MD, a fellowship-trained interventional pain specialist at TruWell Health in St. Petersburg.

Viscosupplement Injections

“When Ms. Egan came to us, she was experiencing severe knee pain that impacted her activities,” Dr. Brown recalls. “She had moderate osteoarthritis and wanted to avoid knee replacement surgery.

“Our practice offers a one-of-a-kind comprehensive knee program that includes all evidence-based, researched-backed components of knee treatment. I recommended that to Ms. Egan.”

TruWell Health’s knee program begins with the physician conducting a thorough physical examination of the patient. Before any treatment is started, Dr. Brown takes x-rays to evaluate the knee and the status of the arthritis.

“We first perform a diagnostic arthrogram, a special x-ray using contrast dye, to determine if the synovial capsule is intact,” Dr. Brown discloses. “If the synovial capsule — the bubble-like structure that surrounds the joint — is not intact, nothing we put in the knee will stay there. This is key to the program’s success.

“If the capsule is intact, the patient is a good candidate for the knee program, which includes a series of five weekly viscosupplement injections. We use a very high-grade hyaluronic acid called GenVisc® 850.”

GenVisc 850 supplements the joint’s natural fluid. It helps lubricate and cushion the joint, which alleviates pain and improves mobility and function. GenVisc 850 contains no animal products; because it’s synthetic, there is no risk for allergy or adverse reaction.

“We use other products as well, but the evidence for GenVisc 850 is superior to that of other available products,” Dr. Brown contends. “Sometimes, patients have insurance requirements that mandate we use a different product. But my preference for our program is GenVisc 850 because outcomes are so much better.

“Everything we do, including all the injections, are done under image guidance. We don’t do anything blindly. We use either x-ray or ultrasound every time we treat the knee.”

To get the GenVisc 850 into the area most affected by arthritis, Dr. Brown places the patient in a special brace to offload the knee. This opens up the joint space so the medication can be directed into the affected area.

“As part of the program, patients also meet twice a week for one hour with our in-house physical therapist,” Dr. Brown details. “They are also given home exercises to do, but during our in house-sessions, we utilize special equipment that allows us to offer eccentric strengthening, which is the stretch phase of an exercise. It has been found to be incredibly important to offloading joints and building bone health.

“Best of all, it works. Several hundred patients have completed our knee program, and our success rate is 75 to 80 percent.”

Truwell Health’s knee program has alleviated Dorothy’s knee pain and eliminated the need for corrective surgery.

“Most Successful Experience”

Dorothy is benefitting tremendously from TruWell Health’s knee program. She says the protocol has eliminated her need for surgery, alleviated her pain and greatly improved her strength and mobility.

“It’s been a most successful experience for me,” she raves. “I’ve gone from 10- and eight-level pain to very little discomfort in both knees. And because of that, I’ve also returned to my activities.

“I just trimmed my landscaping and planted a few flowers, vegetables and herbs in my garden. I’m also able to do my volunteer work, so I’m very pleased with my results.”

She is equally pleased with the providers at TruWell Health that cared for her.

“I can’t say enough about Dr. Brown and her staff,” Dorothy raves. “Dr. Brown is way beyond knowledgeable. She created this comprehensive program, and as I progressed through my treatment, I was always at ease. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming, and their team spirit was obvious. I’m very impressed with them.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photo by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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    • TruWell Health

      TruWell Health is located in a professional medical building in downtown St. Petersburg. There is free parking and free valet service. Our office is elegant, warm, comfortable and modern, and we utilize the latest technology... Read More

    • Lora L. Brown, MD

      Lora L. Brown, MD, is certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology and American Board of Pain Medicine. She is also a fellow of the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians. Dr. Brown earned her bachelor’s degree cum laude from th... Read More