Let Nature Run Its Course

Simple injection of tissue-growing cells stimulates body’s repair mechanisms

Like many a running enthusiast, Toni Abernathy is hoping that one day soon she’ll look back on her many 5K and 10K races as

the warmup runs for a much longer and far greater endeavor.

“I want to run a marathon,” Toni states. “I haven’t started training for that yet, but running a marathon is one of my big goals. It’s on my bucket list.”

Much of what is on Toni’s bucket list has already been achieved. The 67-year- old has skied in the Rockies, cruised the Caribbean and, following her retirement last year, moved to within a short trot of a Florida beach.

“That’s my happy place,” Toni says of the beach. “It’s one of them anyway. The other is the Smoky Mountains. One of my favorite things to do there is to hike the trails and climb to the top of one of the mountains and just look out at all the natural beauty.”

For years, Toni and her husband have made near-annual treks to the Smokies. About six years ago, though, twinges of right knee pain began to make Toni’s hikes a bit more laborious. In time, that knee pain made those hikes a bit more dangerous.

“I got to a point where I started to feel a little less confident when climbing over rocks and things like that,” Toni offers.

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“Then the pain started to get in the way of my running. Sometimes, I just had to stop. Not because I was out of breath, but because my knee hurt.

“As time went on, I started to compensate for the pain in my right knee and, of course, my left knee took the brunt of that, so I started feeling a similar pain in my left knee. It wasn’t as bad as what I felt in my right knee, but it was getting worse.”

Upon finally seeking medical care for her knee, Toni was told the issue was a result of arthritis. To alleviate her pain, she accepted an injection of cortisone into the joint, but that did little to help.

A former exercise physiologist and physiology professor, Toni next chose to treat herself by creating an exercise and strength-training regimen that was designed to ease the pressure on her knees by building up the muscles around them.

That regimen helped Toni avoid the only other medical solution she was offered, which was surgery, but her fight with knee discomfort continued and eventually intensified a few years later while she and her husband were making their move to Florida.

“I spent years teaching people how to use body mechanics to keep from injuring themselves, but I suddenly

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found myself in a situation where I could not use those body mechanics myself because it hurt too much,” Toni relates.

“I would try lifting a box, for example, by squatting down and lifting with my legs, but once I got down, my knee hurt too much to get up again. Even bending to reach for something that I couldn’t reach with my arms while standing was hard.”

Frustrated with the degree to which her knee pain was affecting almost every aspect of life, Toni decided shortly after moving to Florida last year to go in search of another nonsurgical pain solution.

She found it while reading an edition of Volusia Health Care News.

“The paper came in the mail one day not long after we moved to Florida,” Toni recalls. “When I started looking through it, I found an article about an 85-year- old woman who rode motorcycles and suffered from the same knee problems I had.

“I was so intrigued with her story that when I was done reading I said to myself, I’m going to call the people she went to and see if they can help me the same way they helped her. That’s how I wound up at Coastal Integrative Healthcare.”

Body’s Building Blocks

Coastal Integrative Healthcare is a medical center dedicated to providing pain relief through advanced chiropractic equipment, advanced technology and regenerative medicine therapy, which is the treatment Toni read about.

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.

Many in the medical community, including those at the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine, consider regenerative medicine the future of medicine. Timothy Steflik, DC, the 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 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.

“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 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 the knees and shoulders, ankles and wrists, hips, back and neck, Dr. Steflik details.

Not all patients are candidates for regenerative medicine. Someone with a complete tear of the rotator cuff, for example, would be encouraged to try other options first. During her initial visit to Coastal Integrative Healthcare, Toni received good news.

Worth a Shot

“I first went there last September, and I was really happy to learn I was a candidate for the treatment because I had already made up my mind that I wanted to do this,” Toni says. “And I’m so glad I did. This treatment has made an incredible difference because I feel great.

“I have no issues with my knee anymore, so I can run without having to stop because of knee pain, and I feel confident when doing things like hiking and walking up a flight of stairs. I couldn’t be happier.”

Her positive outcome was the result of more than just a series of regenerative medicine injections. Coastal Integrative Healthcare’s regenerative medicine therapy includes treatments that augment the natural healing process triggered by those injections.

In Toni’s case, those treatments included soft tissue therapy to reduce scar tissue,

physical therapy to increase strength and balance in her legs, and chiropractic care to ensure her skeletal structure is in proper alignment.

“That is one of the things that I appreciate most about Coastal Integrative Healthcare’s approach,” Toni says of the combination of therapies. “With my background, I know that it’s not just an injection that makes everything better. There’s more to it than that.

“It’s the injection and everything else that goes along with it that makes you feel better because the body works as a system. And to make that system work, you need to have that symbiotic relationship between all of the therapies.

“That’s what Coastal Integrative Healthcare does. They don’t stop with just an injection. They do it all. And I want to add that their staff

is absolutely wonderful. They treat you like family, like you matter, and always make you feel comfortable.

“Another thing that’s great about them is that they are very intuitive. When you go there, they want to know how you’re feeling, and when they’re treating you, they want to know how the treatment feels. You don’t get that everywhere you go.

“They even went so far as to provide me with education and resources that I could use to expedite my recovery, so I was really impressed with everyone there and with their entire approach, which is why I highly recommend them to anyone.” ■

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings

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