Joint Investment

Regenerative technique relieves severe knee pain without surgery.

High-flying airline pilot Raymond* made a career of defying gravity and soaring through the open skies. He did that for 28 years, then took a job as a building-code examiner for Pasco County. That job meant long hours on his feet, which aggravated the arthritis progressing in his knee.Dr. Erick Grana regenerated Raymond’s (alias) arthritic knee using stem cell therapy at Regenerative Orthopedic Institute in Tampa.

“My right knee was the one giving me problems,” Raymond clarifies. “I went to a doctor, who took x-rays and discovered my knee joint was bone-on-bone. I felt a sharp pain in that knee every time I moved the joint. One bone would grind over the other, and that caused the pain, which was usually so intense, I could hardly walk. I had to give up golfing because I could barely move. The pain averaged nine on a scale of one to ten.”

At his doctor’s recommendation, Raymond tried a couple of different avenues for pain relief, including cortisone shots and wearing a knee brace, but received little or no lasting relief from them. Mired in agony as a result of the failed treatment attempts, Raymond didn’t feel any better after learning the follow-up option his doctor suggested.

“The brace helped because it separated the bones, but it was cumbersome and difficult to wear all the time,” Raymond explains. “The brace also cut off the circulation in my leg, so I wasn’t happy about wearing it. Then the doctor told me the next step was a knee replacement. I wasn’t ready to do that yet, so I told the doctor, No, a knee replacement is my last alternative.

Hoping to help her husband avoid surgery, Raymond’s wife, a registered nurse, researched nonsurgical options to treat painful, arthritic knees. One treatment that caught her attention was the use of a patient’s own cells to rebuild damaged tissue. The provider she found who offered this treatment is Regenerative Orthopedic Institute in Tampa.

Regenerative Orthopedic Institute is where Erick A. Grana, MD, specializes in regenerative medicine. He treats patients with a nonsurgical regenerative technique called stem cell therapy. This therapy uses the patient’s own specialized stem cells to promote the growth of new tissue in joints ravaged by arthritis or injury.

“Today, there are options that we can offer to osteoarthritis patients that allow them to avoid taking on the risks of a surgical procedure before they get to the stage where they need joint replacement,” Dr. Grana reports.

“Not only can we relieve the pain, we can also reverse some of the damage done by the osteoarthritis. This is accomplished by regenerating the cartilage and connective tissues in and around the joint area.

“Regenerative medicine treats disease and injuries by harnessing the body’s own healing powers. The natural healing process is accelerated by a combination of growth factors and bioactive cells in the form of stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP).

“This process results in a safe, effective, nonsurgical treatment, and unlike traditional invasive surgery, which can result in blood loss, scarring and long, painful recovery periods, stem cell therapy requires only injections into the damaged joint and offers a much quicker recovery than surgery. Typically, patients begin to feel a noticeable decrease in pain after six weeks.”

“Tremendous Potential”

Stem cell therapy is autologous, meaning it utilizes stem cells, PRP and growth factors from the patient’s own body. Using the patient’s own cells eliminates the chances of reactive side effects or rejection.

Stem cells are extracted from the patient’s bone marrow or fat, and PRP is taken from the patient’s own blood. The harvested cells are then injected into the painful area to stimulate regeneration of damaged tissue and the healing of tendons, ligaments, joints or spinal discs.

“When I was first introduced to stem cell therapy, I recognized its tremendous potential for patients who would otherwise have limited treatment options for pain relief,” Dr. Grana discloses.

Dr. Erick Grana regenerated Raymond’s (alias) arthritic knee using stem cell therapy at Regenerative Orthopedic Institute in Tampa.

“The pain in my knee went from a nine to a one, maybe one and a half. My stem cell treatment was a definite success.” – Raymond

“Patients with osteoarthritis, such as Raymond, have very few choices other than surgery when the condition advances and damages the joint. Since surgery has potential complications, when we treat arthritic joints without surgery, patients do much better.”

Dr. Grana has developed a system for the delivery of stem cells and PRP into the pain generators in and around joints such as the knees, shoulders and hips. It’s called RegenaJoint.

He developed a similar system to treat the spine. That process is called RegenaSpine. RegenaJoint and RegenaSpine are both minimally invasive procedures that are performed right in the doctor’s office using a local anesthetic. Patients typically resume normal activities right away.

To precisely deliver stem cells into the painful area, Dr. Grana uses image guidance through ultrasound and fluoroscopy (continuous x-rays). He uses imaging to ensure precise placement of the stem cells, which restore function, improve quality of life and reduce or eliminate the need for surgery and/or narcotic medications. Many other clinics don’t use this process.

“This imaging guides us to put the stem cells where they need to go,” the physician asserts. “Not everybody does it this way, which is a shame because the results are much better when the stem cells are delivered to the area where they’ll do the most good.”

Threefold Target

The main culprit in many of the joint issues patients bring to Regenerative Orthopedic Institute is osteoarthritis.

“Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of the joint that happens over time,” Dr. Grana notes. “It’s a mechanical as well as a chemical disease, where harmful chemicals inside the joints prevent them from repairing themselves. Thus, the normal wear and tear occurs without regeneration.

“Within three minutes, RegenaJoint reduces chronic inflammation. It restores the normal chemistry of the knee joint so there is balance again, allowing regeneration that can heal the wear and tear occurring inside the joint. At the same time, it can repair some of the damage that has occurred previously.”

Dr. Grana stresses that when combined with concentrated platelets and growth factors, stem cells become a powerful, natural repairing mechanism for painful joints and aching backs.

“Patients usually have three goals for RegenaJoint and RegenaSpine: first, to get their pain relieved; second, to resume former activities that they weren’t able to do because of their arthritis; and third, to avoid surgery,” Dr. Grana observes. “These are the main goals that most patients want to achieve.”

“Grow New Cartilage”

Raymond says he was initially a bit apprehensive about receiving stem cell treatment because there were no guarantees. He went to the Institute anyway and spoke to the nurse, whose findings encouraged him to go ahead with it.

“The nurse looked at my knee through an x-ray and said, There’s still some cartilage in there, so we can grow new cartilage,” Raymond recalls. “She went on to explain exactly how it is they do that, so I agreed to have the procedure, which was performed in October.

“The staff at Regenerative Orthopedic Institute took two big syringes of my fatty tissue and two big syringes of my blood and spun the plasma out of my fatty tissue and took out the actual stem cells.

Dr. Erick Grana regenerated Raymond’s (alias) arthritic knee using stem cell therapy at Regenerative Orthopedic Institute in Tampa.

Stem cells are extracted from the patient’s own bone marrow or fatty tissue and can be used to regenerate joints such as the shoulders, knees and ankles.

“Then they took my blood, spun it and removed the platelets. They mixed the stem cells and platelets together, then Dr. Grana injected the mixture into my knee. I’ve had shots in my knee before, and if they’re not done properly, they can be very painful. But Dr. Grana did this one properly. He knows what he’s doing with the knee because I really didn’t feel anything at all.”

Ongoing Progress

Though patients typically begin to feel the effects of stem cell treatment about six weeks after receiving it, Raymond felt improvement after only four weeks. His pain continued to decrease as time went on. Today, he continues to recover and is still experiencing results from his procedure.

“After about a month, I noticed the pain was starting to feel a little better,” he enthuses. “Then it kept getting better and better. Some days now, I have no pain. Other days, I have a little bit of pain, but it’s going down at a rapid rate. That’s a very good sign for my recovery.

“At this point, my knee is great. The procedure was done in October. It’s now January, and I’ve gotten back about eighty-five percent of my knee. The pain in my knee went from a nine to a one, maybe one and a half, and that’s manageable. My stem cell treatment was a definite success.”

The reduction in Raymond’s knee pain is a game changer for him, especially because he achieved it without surgery. While he’s not golfing yet, he is walking comfortably again. He credits Dr. Grana and his stem cell therapy for the turnaround. Raymond believes the doctor and his treatment are worth bragging about.

“I’ve already recommended Dr. Grana and Regenerative Orthopedic Institute to several people,” he says. “As far as stem cell therapy, I was a skeptic at first, but now I’m a firm believer based on the outcome with my knee. I recommend the treatment totally!”

*Patient’s name withheld at his request.
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