Heal Thyself Through Regenerative Medicine

Tissue-growing cells serve as building blocks for shoulder repair.

When the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach adopted a $57 million expansion and renovation project some 17 years ago, it gave the job of gutting the old place to a local company that had already broken new ground in a much different way.

Regenerative medicine relieved Kathleen’s
aggravating shoulder pain.

Now in its 30th year, ABC Demolition was the first demolition contractor in Central Florida to be established, owned and operated by a woman. That woman, Kathleen Kuehne, learned the business from the bottom up.

“I was a school bus driver for a while, but then I went to work as a laborer for a demolition company,” Kathleen explains. “While I was doing that, I also learned how to do estimating and all the other aspects of the demolition business.

“That company eventually went out of business. It went bankrupt. I needed to work, and with the experience I had I decided I could just start my own demolition company. My husband joined me, but it was my company. I ran every facet of it.”

For years, a regular workday for Kathleen, now 77, included climbing an eight-foot ladder and wielding a four-pound sledgehammer or 14-inch chop saw. Over time, those laborious days took a toll on her body.

“As you might expect, that kind of work mostly affected my shoulders,” Kathleen acknowledges. “They just wore out from all the work I had done. My left shoulder was worse than my right, and it mostly affected me when I slept — or tried to sleep.

“I sleep on my side, but no matter which side I would sleep on, I’d wake up a couple of hours later in severe pain. It wasn’t as bad during the day, but only because I was taking an average of about four Aleve® each day to get through.

“The only good thing was that by the time my shoulders got really bad, I was already semi-retired. Then I retired altogether. Even then, it was hard to do a lot of things. I had to be really careful while getting dressed and doing normal everyday things.”

In addition to taking over-the-counter medications, Kathleen tried to alleviate her pain through more conventional measures, including emptying her purse of all but the bare necessities. None of that helped.

“When I finally went to see a doctor about this, they took x-rays and gave me a cortisone shot,” Kathleen reports. “The first one lasted about three months before the pain came back. The second one lasted about two months.

“After that, the doctor told me I would eventually get nothing from the shots and said the only thing left to do was to get a shoulder replacement. But even the doctor didn’t think that was a good idea because it would take me a year to recover.”

Kathleen didn’t want surgery, nor did she want to spend the rest of her life taking pain medications. So, she began looking for alternatives, a quest that led her to Coastal Integrative Healthcare.

Body’s Building Blocks

Coastal Integrative Healthcare is a medical center dedicated to serving the community and providing pain relief through advanced chiropractic equipment, advanced technology and regenerative medicine. The latter lured Kathleen to the practice.

Regenerative medicine uses the foundation cells that grow tissue throughout the body. When these cellular products are injected into damaged tissue, they support the natural healing process by regenerating that tissue and stimulating the body’s repair mechanisms.

Because of this regenerative nature, many in the medical community, including those at the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine, consider regenerative medicine to be the future of medicine.

Timothy Steflik, DC, clinic director and president of Coastal Integrative Healthcare, is right there with them.

“Regenerative medicine is definitely on the leading edge of medical technology,” Dr. Steflik affirms. “It’s a great alternative to surgery because it regenerates the body instead of trying to fix it or cover up a problem with surgery. The real beauty of it is that it’s a one-and-done, in-office procedure that takes about 15 minutes and needs no anesthesia. It’s a simple injection of the cells that are cryopreserved in our office.

“My shoulders started to feel better about a week after the injection, and they’ve only gotten better since,” – Kathleen

“For some patients, we administer the injections using color ultrasound to help guide us. We do that because we need to be very specific where the cells are placed. Once the cells are injected, patients need time to heal, but they can return to normal activities right away.”

Regenerative medicine can be used to treat arthritis, muscle or tendon tears, and peripheral neuropathy almost anywhere in the body, including knees and shoulders, ankles and wrists, hips, back and neck, Dr. Steflik details.

Not all patients are candidates for regenerative medicine. For example, someone with a complete tear of the rotator cuff would be encouraged to try other options first. Kathleen, however, was deemed a good fit for the advanced therapy.

“One of the first things they did with me was take x-rays and an MRI, and those showed that there was just enough cartilage left in both shoulders for me to be a candidate for the regenerative medicine,” Kathleen reveals. “So, I said, Let’s try it.

Worth a Try

Kathleen first visited Coastal Integrative Healthcare in December. She returned in January for the injections and soon began a rehabilitation regimen. The combination has made a world of difference, she says. She now has full use of her pain-free shoulders.

Kathleen Kuehne

“My shoulders started to feel better about a week after the injections, and they’ve only gotten better since,” Kathleen details. “The proof is in the bottle of Aleve that I have. I’ve hardly touched it since I got these injections.”

Kathleen is so pleased with the results that she has gladly recommended Coastal Integrative Healthcare to others.

“I ran into a woman at a health club I go to, and she was looking for some help with pain like I had,” Kathleen relates. “I told her to try Coastal Integrative Healthcare because I think they’re great.

“I told her that they gave me relief from my shoulder pain and explained to her how lovely everyone there is and how I never had to wait for an appointment or anything. They were always ready for me, even if I got there early.

“I like them so much that I even got some work done on my lower back from one of their chiropractors. I trusted them to do that because they did such a great job with my shoulders. I gladly recommend them to anyone.”

“Success” Story

Every now and then, whether she’s at a grocery store, a movie theater or on one of her long walks or bike rides, Gail Borland will run into one of the many students she taught during her 16 years as an educator.

Gail Borland

Those encounters are almost always rewarding experiences.

“I taught life skills at a special education high school,” Gail details. “I taught my students things such as how to prepare a resume or how to conduct themselves on a job interview, practical things that would help them get and keep a job.

“Now, I’m always running into them at different places, and when I hear how they’re doing and what they’re up to, it’s really neat. It makes me proud to hear that they’re successfully employed and doing well.”

Gail, 69, has a lot that she’s proud of. In addition to helping youngsters prepare for the workforce, she has twice achieved a demanding goal she set for herself shortly after retiring a few years ago.

“I love doing things outdoors, and so the year I retired, I joined a program in Orange City called the Mayor’s Fitness Challenge,” Gail explains. “The goal I set for myself was to walk 1 million steps in 10 weeks, which was how long the challenge lasts.

“I’m proud to say that I achieved the goal the first two years. Unfortunately, I also fell a few times, and I landed on my right knee at least once. The injury wasn’t serious, though, so I never got it checked out.

“After a few years, though, I started to feel more and more pain in that knee. When I finally went to see a doctor, he gave me a cortisone shot. But the relief only lasted about three months.”

Hesitant to get a second cortisone injection, Gail tried alleviating her pain through a gel that her sister, a skier, suggested. The gel gave her no relief at all. Neither did braces or kinesiology tape. She then visited an orthopedist, who ordered x-rays.

“The doctor took one look at the x-rays and the first thing he says is, You need a knee replacement,” Gail recalls. “He starts telling me, We’ll get you scheduled for that before you leave today, and I was like, Wait, no; I don’t want a knee replacement.

“Before I was going to do anything like that, I wanted to know if there were any alternatives I could try first. While searching, I saw a post on Facebook about Coastal Integrative Healthcare.”

Booster Shot

The post read as if it were written specifically for Gail. It noted that for people who have been told that replacement surgery is the only cure for their severe knee pain, there is an alternative: regenerative medicine.

“I have a friend I bike with, and she had regenerative medicine injections,” Gail relates. “I remember when she got her injections, and I remember that eight months later she was fine and feeling great again, so I thought it might work for me, too.”

Intrigued by the Facebook post and encouraged by the success of her friend, Gail made an appointment this past summer with Coastal Integrative Healthcare. X-rays and an MRI of her knee were taken as part of the initial examination.

“When they looked at the results, they said I was a candidate for regenerative medicine,” Gail remembers. “I said, OK, let’s do it. I had the injections on September 15.”

As is typical with regenerative medicine patients, Gail’s care did not end with the injection. Her treatment plan included cold laser therapy and physical therapy to expedite healing.

“All in all, the results of these regenerative medicine injections have been remarkable. It’s really amazing.” – Gail

Then in December, Gail received an injection of platelet rich plasma (PRP), a blood derivative rich with regenerative growth factors that work in concert with the regenerative medicine injection to boost the development of tissue.

PRP is obtained from the patient through a standard blood draw. Once the blood is obtained, it’s placed in a centrifuge, where it is spun in a way that separates the growth factors. Once separated, the growth factors are injected into the patient.

“I was told that after about six months is when you really start to feel the difference from regenerative medicine injections, and that’s about right,” Gail allows. “I started to feel better about six months after the injection, and I continue to feel better every day.

“Now, I am using a knee brace for support, but I’m out doing pretty much everything that I had to give up when my knee pain got too bad last year. That includes swimming, gardening and walking, although I’m not yet walking as much as I used to.”

Free of her debilitating knee pain, Gail is back riding her bike again.

Amazing Results

Gail didn’t ride her bike for months before or after receiving the regenerative medicine injections either, but she’s slowly getting back to that as well. Overall, she describes her experience with Coastal Integrative Healthcare as a “great success.”

“All in all, the results of these regenerative medicine injections have been remarkable. It’s really amazing,” she adds. “I’m so thankful Coastal Integrative Healthcare is nearby because I don’t know what I would have done without them.

“I’m also a hospital volunteer at AdventHealth Fish Memorial. I drive a shuttle there, and when people see my knee brace, they ask me all the time if I had a knee replacement. I say, Nope, I had regenerative medicine, and they’re always intrigued by that.

“They always ask me questions, and I tell them all about it, and I even give them the doctor’s business cards and tell them that if they’re having a problem, go by and see if they can help you. I have a friend who did that, and like me, she’s just ecstatic with the results.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photos by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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