Step Into the Future

Stem cell therapy repairs damaged, arthritic joints.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

JoAnne is looking forward to her
next vacation.

Internet dating sites weren’t in vogue yet when JoAnne Gee and her husband first found each other while surfing the World Wide Web some 25 years ago. That initial connection led to a first date in Chicago, and love blossomed soon thereafter.

“I was living in Wisconsin at the time, and he was a sportscaster working for a radio station in Atlanta,” JoAnne remembers. “He had to fly to Chicago for a Cubs game one weekend, and that’s where we first met up.”

After marrying and moving to Florida, JoAnne’s husband took a job with another radio station while JoAnne worked for a few years herself before devoting her time to caring for their daughter, who has Down syndrome and Tourette syndrome.

All along, the family dreamed of traveling extensively after JoAnne and her husband retired, but just as that opportunity was first presenting itself last year, JoAnne couldn’t help but wonder if she had waited too long to begin those excursions.

“It’s a problem I’ve been dealing with for about five years now,” JoAnne, 66, reveals. “I had always been very active, and about five years ago, I started to have a lot of knee pain. The first thing I did was go to see an osteopath in St. Augustine.

“The osteopath told me I needed to have knee replacement surgery, but he said I was too young to have it because it might only last about five years. We decided to do physical therapy instead, but that didn’t do me much good.

“The pain only got worse from there on, and eventually, it just became horrendous. I was so crippled up, I couldn’t walk my dog, go for walks with my daughter or even get up out of a chair. I was so inactive, I wound up gaining twenty pounds.”

“Getting the stem cell injections is one of the best things that’s happened to us. It’s given me my life back.” – JoAnne

At the peak of her discomfort last year, JoAnne, her husband and another couple went off on a previously planned trip to Hawaii. JoAnne spent most of that trip wishing she’d stayed at home.

“I was in so much pain that I couldn’t even walk on the beach,” JoAnne says. “Everybody was telling me to get a walker or a wheelchair, but I wasn’t about to do that. I was in tears most of the time, and I finally told my husband, I can’t live like this anymore.”

Even before returning from Hawaii, JoAnne began researching possible solutions for her knee pain. The one that most intrigued her was stem cell therapy. What convinced her to give it a try was an article she read in Florida Health Care News.

“I was waiting for an appointment with another doctor, and when I read the article, I told my husband, I want to do this,” JoAnne says. “So I went home, did a little more research, and after that, I called Coastal Integrative Healthcare and made an appointment.”

Coastal Integrative Healthcare is an integrative medical center dedicated to serving its community and providing pain relief for patients through the use of advanced chiropractic equipment, technology and stem cell therapy.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.The Body’s Building Blocks

Stem cells are the basic foundation cells that grow all of the tissue and organs in our body. When injected into a damaged organ or tissue, they support the natural healing process by regenerating that tissue.

Also known as regenerative medicine, stem cell therapy stimulates the body’s natural repair mechanisms. Many in the medical community, including those at the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine, consider it the future of medicine.

“It’s definitely on the leading edge of medical technology,” states Timothy Steflik, DC, of Coastal Integrative Healthcare. “It’s a great alternative to surgery. 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 is a one-and-done, in-office procedure that takes about fifteen minutes to complete and needs no anesthesia. It’s a simple injection of the cells that are cryo-preserved right in our office.

“For some patients, we do a color ultrasound to guide the injection because we need to be very specific where the cells are placed. Once the cells are injected, the patient just needs time to heal. They can return to normal activities right away.”

Stem cell therapy can be used anywhere in the body where there is arthritis or a muscle or tendon tear, Dr. Steflik educates. In addition to knees and shoulders, Coastal Integrative Healthcare providers have also performed the procedure on hamstrings, ankles and wrists.

Not all patients are good candidates for stem cell therapy. Patients who have suffered a tear of more than 50 percent of the rotator cuff in their shoulder, for example, or have absolutely no cartilage left in their knee would be encouraged to try other options first.

JoAnne’s first visit to Coastal Integrative Healthcare included a thorough examination conducted by Bryan Call, DC, that showed her knees still had enough cartilage in them to benefit from stem cell therapy. But just enough.

“He told me I was lucky, because there wouldn’t have been much more time left before I would have had to have the replacement surgery,” JoAnne says. “So we went home that day, signed the papers, and the next day, we went back, and I got the little shot.”

Though most patients begin to feel the effects of their stem cell injection after a month or two, some notice a reduction in pain and discomfort within a couple of days or weeks, according to Dr. Steflik. JoAnne was one of those who experienced the effects immediately.

“By the next day, I had no pain whatsoever, and as time went on, my knee function just got better and better,” she says. “When I went back for a check-up a few months later, I had full extension in my right knee and all but ten percent extension in my left knee.

“The tech who saw me said I would have never gotten that with a knee replacement, so I’m doing really well. I have full use of both my knees now, and I can do everything that I couldn’t do before, and that’s incredible.

“I can go for walks with my daughter and swim and take my dogs for walks. I can go on a vacation and enjoy it, and we already have another one planned. Getting the stem cell injections is one of the best things that’s happened to us. It’s given me my life back.”

Surgery Avoided

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Since undergoing stem cell therapy, Millie has resumed her active lifestyle.

Florida’s Indian River is not known as one of the state’s better areas to catch blue or stone crab, but it’s good enough for Millie Burch, a 66-year-old recent retiree who lists crabbing as one of her favorite pastimes.

“I get my share out there in the Indian River, so I’m happy with it” claims Millie, who has been taking life “day to day” since retiring from her 25-year career in the medical field, where she worked almost exclusively in administration.

Millie says she was fortunate to have a job that required her to work behind a desk. That was especially the case during the last three years of her career, when arthritic knees made it hard for her to do much of anything else.

“If I had to stand for any period of time my knees would just kill me,” she says. “As it was,I had to take ibuprofen every day just to be able to sit comfortably, so being on my feet all day would have been pretty hard for me.

“I used to walk a lot, about two miles every day with a neighbor of mine, but my knees got so bad that one day,I had to stop because I was in so much pain that I had to call my husband and have him come pick me up.”

That incident forced Millie to seek medical attention for her knee pain. She was initially treated with injections of cortisol, an anti-inflammatory that limits tissue damage, but she was eventually told she would need to have knee replacement surgery.

“I was really dreading having the surgery, so my husband and I started looking into alternatives,” Millie explains. “Then we heard about a seminar that was going to be held on stem cell therapy and decided to check it out.

“Before we went to the seminar, I also checked with a girlfriend that I used to work with. She had stem cell therapy, and I asked her how it was. She said it worked so well that she would do it again if she had to. That was all I needed to hear.”

The seminar Millie attended was conducted by Dr. Steflik of Coastal Integrative Healthcare. Impressed by what she heard from her friend and learned at the seminar, Millie soon made an appointment to be examined at the practice.

“Millie first came to see us this past February,” says Greg Salter, MSN, ARNP, at Coastal Integrative Healthcare. “When we first examined her, she still had some cartilage in both knees. She wasn’t quite bone on bone yet, but she was getting there.”

The diagnosis showed that like JoAnne, Millie was indeed a good candidate for stem cell therapy. Like JoAnne, Millie opted immediately to receive the injections, her hope being that they would alleviate the need for replacement surgery. They did that and more.

“If I had to do it again for another joint or something, I would. That’s how good this therapy has been for me.” – Millie

“I figured that if I was going to have to have the replacement surgery, I might as well give this a try first, and I’m so glad I did,” Millie raves. “I got the injections in February, and since then, my knees have only gotten better.

“I first started to feel a difference about four or five weeks after getting the injections. The first thing I noticed was that I could bend my knees again without them hurting. Then I was able to start walking again without it hurting.

“I’m not back up to walking the two miles I was walking before all this trouble started, but I’m getting there. And not only have I not had to get the replacement surgery, I have not needed a cortisol shot since I received the stem cell injections.”

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.Seeing Is Believing

Two recent visits to Coastal Integrative Healthcare showed Millie exactly how the stem cell therapy is working for her. In both cases, she learned that the spacing between the bones in her knees had increased as a result of growth of new tissue.

“I could literally see the difference in the x-rays, and, of course, I can feel the difference,” she exudes. “That’s what’s most important, and I’m telling you, if I had to do it again for another joint or something, I would. That’s how good this therapy has been for me
“And I would have it done at Coastal Integrative Healthcare. The people there are so nice, and they go out of their way to help you in any way they can. I recommend them to anyone. In fact, I have recommended them and stem cell therapy already.”

JoAnne echoes those sentiments.

“I recommend stem cell therapy to anybody,” she says. “And one of the great things about getting the treatment at Coastal Integrative Healthcare is they are there for you, no matter what. If you have any questions or concerns, they answer them all.

“The whole staff is wonderful. Dr. Call is an awesome doctor and very friendly. He knows what he’s talking about and gives you all the information you need. So are the physician’s assistants. They’re gentle and kind, and they offer lots of information.

“Everyone there does a great job, and they make you feel comfortable. The treatment itself takes fifteen minutes, and you’re out the door. And you don’t have to worry about any complications from surgery or anything like that, which is great.”

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    • Coastal Integrative Healthcare

      The mission at Coastal Integrative Healthcare is to provide members of their community of Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach, and Oak Hill with quality care at affordable rates. They believe everyone deserves to receive specific and customized... Read More

    • Greg Salter, MSN, ARNP

      Greg Salter, MSN, ARNP, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science/Pre-Med from University of Tampa. He also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Bethune-Cookman College and earned his Master of Science degree in N... Read More

    • Timothy Steflik, DC

      Timothy Steflik, DC, is a licensed doctor of chiropractic who graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Port Orange, Florida in 2011 and now serves as the clinic director and president of Coastal Integrative Healthcare. He is an adj... Read More

    • Jessica Cole, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C

      Jessica Cole, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner licensed in the state of Florida. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Nursing from West Virginia University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She later rec... Read More