Two for One
Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Stem cell therapy has relieved Carolyn’s knee and back pain.

Regenerative medicine technique restores arthritic knee, spinal joints.

Carolyn Zehendner, 82, spent most of her adult life as a homemaker and stay-at-home mom. But she also worked two ten-year stints outside the home before her children were born and after they were grown. Both times, Carolyn was employed at the diagnostics division of Bayer Pharmaceuticals in her hometown of Elkhart, Indiana.

“My husband and I raised our children in Elkhart, but once they grew up and went to college, we moved to Michigan to live on Eagle Lake,” Carolyn shares. “It’s a beautiful little lake in the village of Edwardsburg, which is close to South Bend, Indiana. We stayed within the Michigan-Indiana region. They call it Michiana.

“We lived in Michigan for thirty-three years. When my husband became ill, our son, who lives in Florida, thought we should leave the snow and ice behind and move to Florida as well. He said life would be easier for us down here, especially for my husband. I agreed, and we moved to St. Petersburg in October 2018.”

The move was a comfort for Carolyn as well. For years, she had struggled with arthritis pain in her left knee, and Michigan’s snow and cold made her knee ache all the more. Even on good days, the pain was intense, a seven or higher on a scale of one to ten, which greatly affected her daily pursuits.

“My knee hurt so much that I limped when I walked,” she describes. “I couldn’t walk far, and I couldn’t exercise or perform many of my routine activities. I wasn’t confined to my apartment, but it hurt terribly to walk.

“I saw an orthopedic doctor who recommended surgery on my knee. But I knew my husband wasn’t well, and I didn’t feel that I could have surgery, then be in a hospital, then a rehab center and still take care of him, so I put it off. But my knee continued to hurt.

“My husband passed away in January 2019, and I decided that I had to do something about my knee. It took me until May to figure out what to do. That’s when I picked up a copy of Florida Health Care News and read about Dr. Grana and his stem cell therapy for knees. Dr. Grana says, Don’t operate, regenerate, so I made an appointment to talk with him.”

Erick A. Grana, MD, of Regenerative Orthopedic Institute in Tampa, addresses conditions such as Carolyn’s using regenerative medicine, which treats patients with a nonsurgical 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.

While Dr. Grana and Carolyn discussed using stem cell therapy on her painful left knee, Carolyn mentioned that she also suffered with severe pain in her lower back. After a thorough examination, Dr. Grana confirmed she had arthritis in the joints of her lumbar spine.

“The pain in my spine made both of my legs hurt,” Carolyn reports. “It was very difficult to walk any distance. I could walk, but it wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t enjoy walking at all, and I couldn’t be as active as I wanted to be.

“Dr. Grana told me he could treat my back as well as my knee. I didn’t realize he could do that, but he said he could perform stem cell therapy on both my knee and lumbar spine on the same day and save me a trip. I was delighted by that.”

Avoiding Surgery

Degenerative arthritis was the cause of Carolyn’s low back and knee pain,” Dr. Grana observes. “Degenerative arthritis, also called osteoarthritis, is the most common form of arthritis. It typically affects the body’s weight-bearing joints, so it is frequently found in the knees and lower portion of the spine.

“Carolyn was seeking a way to relieve her pain without resorting to surgery or heavy pain medications. She wanted a more natural way to ease the pain and manage the underlying arthritis. She was an excellent candidate for regenerative medicine and stem cell therapy.”

Dr. Grana’s 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).

“The process of using stem cells and PRP results in a safe, effective treatment for joints affected by arthritis,” Dr. Grana notes. “And unlike traditional surgery, which can result in blood loss, scarring and long, painful recovery periods, stem cell therapy requires only injections into the damaged joint. It also offers a much quicker recovery than surgery. Typically, patients begin to feel a noticeable decrease in pain after six weeks.”

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

Stem cells are extracted from the patient’s bone marrow or fat, while the PRP is taken from the patient’s own blood. After the stem cells are harvested, they are separated through a centrifuge and injected into the painful area to stimulate the regeneration of damaged tissue and the healing of tendons, ligaments, joints or spinal discs.

Dr. Grana has developed a system for delivering stem cells and PRP into the pain generators in and around joints such as the knees, shoulders and hips. It’s called RegenaJoint. He used this technique on Carolyn’s left knee. He has also developed a similar system to treat the spine called RegenaSpine™, which he used on Carolyn’s low back.

“RegenaJoint and RegenaSpine are both minimally invasive procedures that are performed right in my office using a local anesthetic,” Dr. Grana points out. “Patients typically resume normal activities immediately following the procedures.”

“No Pain at All”

Carolyn received Dr. Grana’s stem cell therapy on her left knee and low back in mid May 2019. She reports that the therapy was effective at relieving her arthritis pain and restoring her joint function.

“My back was better right away,” Carolyn enthuses. “After two or three months, the pain was gone. Dr. Grana couldn’t believe it. He said the back usually takes longer to heal, but for me, it was the quicker one. I have no pain at all in my back now.

“And within five months, my knee was recovered as well. In October, I noticed that I was walking very freely. Before the procedure, my knee hurt when I walked, and I tried not to limp. But now, I don’t even think about my knee anymore. I just walk.

“Every once in a while when I’m really tired, I feel a little something in my knee, but I don’t call it pain, and it never gets past one on a scale of one to ten. This past week, there were eight family members visiting me, including two children, and for six days, we went out every day doing fun things. I began to feel my knee because I don’t walk that much normally. But I had no problem keeping up, and I didn’t limp.

“With stem cell therapy, there’s no recovery time or threat of infection as there is with surgery,” Carolyn states. “Stem cell therapy is wonderful, and I’ve told two dozen people about it and so have my family members.

“They think it’s amazing what stem cell therapy has done for me. I’m so much better now. I absolutely recommend Dr. Grana. He’s very kind and easy to talk with, and he answers all of my questions. I’m very fond of him.”

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