Your Best Shot For Joint Pain

Injection protocol promotes self-healing and faster recovery without surgery.

Regenerative medicine injections have given Steve more mobility in his arthritic shoulders.

Going to school as a kid in Venice, Steve Ellis was one of only four or five students who were born in the seaside city along Florida’s white-sanded Gulf Coast.

“Everybody else was from New York, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania – from all over,” recalls Steve, 52. “But while I was one of the only natives in the class, I was the same as anybody else. I just didn’t have an accent like some of the other kids from New York or Boston.”

As an adult, Steve took over the family business after his uncle passed away 10 years ago. He’s now the owner and property manager for a local mobile home community.

“My family developed the business and I inherited it,” Steve confirms. “It’s a lot rental community. I own the land and the tenants own the mobile homes, and they rent the property from me. I maintain the grounds and keep the sewer and water plants running. It’s like a little city almost.”

The work has taken quite a toll on Steve, who has health issues that date back at least a dozen years to a time when he developed arthritis in his hips.

“The cartilage in my hips was totally gone, and they were essentially bone-on-bone, so I wound up having my hips replaced 12 years ago,” Steve elaborates. “I’ve also had back pain my entire life. It was difficult to bend over, and the pain was pretty bad, a six or seven on a scale of one to 10.

Then Steve’s shoulders started giving him problems, so he went to a doctor for help.

“He said what was once mild arthritis progressed to severe arthritis in a very short time, about 3½, four years,” Steve says. “I’ve got a pretty high threshold for pain, and I was able to do pretty much everything I needed to do even with the shoulder pain. It was just uncomfortable. I did cut back on my skeet shooting and nearly gave it up because it hurt to lift the gun to my shoulder and pull the trigger.

“But even when I was just sitting down playing with my phone or watching TV, the muscle underneath my shoulder would ache. And I couldn’t raise my arms above my head. The pain level in my shoulders was pretty severe, typically a six or seven.”

Years ago, when Steve first began having trouble with his hips, he joined a gym to lose weight with a goal of staving off surgery. A trainer at the gym recommended he visit Jeffrey P. Johnson, DC, of Johnson Medical Center in Venice.

Dr. Johnson specializes in a protocol for back and neck pain called Sedative Stretching, which is an expanded form of Manipulation Under Anesthesia, and is always adding treatments to his arsenal against pain. One of his newest is regenerative medicine, which harnesses natural healing factors to treat disease and injury, and relieve pain.

“Steve has a long history of advanced arthritic degeneration throughout his body and has already undergone bilateral hip replacement,” Dr. Johnson reports. “He now has advanced degeneration in both shoulders as well as facet degeneration in his lumbar spine. He was a good candidate for our regenerative medicine technique.”

Long-Term Restoration

The purpose of regenerative medicine is to place renewing substances into a degenerated joint to stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself, Dr. Johnson informs.

“First, we take the patient’s blood, spin it down and use the platelets to create platelet rich plasma, or PRP,” the doctor explains. “PRP contains healing and growth factors that help the body’s stem cells rebuild tissue in the damaged joint.

“After the PRP, we inject another material called Wharton jelly, which contains more of the vibrant substances that promote the body’s healing ability.”

Wharton jelly is the protective tissue that surrounds the arteries and veins that are part of the umbilical cord, a vital component of fetus development. It contains a high concentration of healing and growth factors. Wharton jelly is obtained from women who donate their baby’s umbilical cord following a healthy birth.

The regenerative medicine protocol used at Johnson Medical Center begins with three consecutive weekly PRP injections.

“The PRP gets the joint ready for the Wharton jelly injection, which is the last of four injections that are part of our protocol,” Dr. Johnson details. “Wharton jelly is the most effective tissue we use to promote healing.”

“I began to feel a difference in my shoulder pain about two weeks after the injections.” – Steve

Injections are less invasive than surgery and patients recover much faster, Dr. Johnson says. In addition, there is a very low risk for complications, such as infection, which can occur with joint replacement surgery.

“Regenerative medicine provides an option for patients with conditions that a year ago I would just refer for surgery,” Dr. Johnson states. “It’s been a terrific add to our practice, where we also use physical therapy, chiropractic and other modalities to assist with the process of rehabilitating the joint. The goal is for the treatment to be a long-term restorative event, not just a short-term fix.”

At Johnson Medical Center, regenerative medicine injections are administered by a specially trained medical provider under ultrasound guidance, which ensures the injections are appropriately placed at the site of the degeneration and/or injury.

“Dr. Johnson said that at places where they don’t use ultrasound guidance, there’s less than a 50-50 chance they’ll hit the right spot, even though the doctor is very knowledgeable,” Steve relates. “But with the ultrasound, it’s dead on, and the injection didn’t hurt at all.”

“I Feel Great”

Steve initially received regenerative medicine injections in his shoulder joints and achieved excellent results. Following that, Steve asked Dr. Johnson to inject the PRP and Wharton jelly into his lower back, and his body’s response was nothing short of miraculous.

“I began to feel a difference in my shoulder pain about two weeks after the injections,” Steve reports. “That was about four months ago, and now I feel great. The pain is almost gone, down to a one, maybe 1½.

“Dr. Johnson’s physician assistant also injected Warton jelly in my lower back, and the results were almost instantaneous. The pain was gone the next day, but sometimes, if I do a lot of work, my back will ache a little. After I get home, shower and relax, the ache goes away and I have no more issues.

“Dr. Johnson is a hell of a nice guy,” Steve adds. “He’s very knowledgeable and puts everything into what he’s doing. And I’m not just a number to him. Everybody at Johnson Medical Center is nice and pleasant. I recommend Dr. Johnson and Johnson Medical Center, and I also recommend their regenerative medicine treatment.”

© FHCN articles by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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    • Johnson Medical Center

      Dr. Jeffery P. Johnson has practiced in Venice, Florida since 1986. His practice is focused on treating patients with many conditions, including those that are not responding to conventional treatments such as physical therapy, chiro... Read More

    • Jeffrey P. Johnson, DC

      Dr. Jeffrey P. Johnson has been in private practice since 1986. At Johnson Medical Center, Venice’s premier, fully integrated medical clinic, Dr. Johnson and his team can treat every member of the family. The practice specializes in dia... Read More