We often see patients seeking a nonsurgical alternative to a lumbar fusion. We also see many patients trying to save their knee and looking for a nonsurgical solution to a knee replacement. Recently, we saw a patient seeking both.
After being told she needed bilateral knee replacements, a low-back MRI led her doctor to also recommend a lumbar fusion. Sherry said no to the lumbar fusion and the knee replacements and all of the artificial devices, hardware, and complications that go along with these highly invasive surgeries and made her way to us. We usually start at the beginning when sharing a patient’s story, but today we’re going to first fast forward. Just look (above) at how much fun Sherry had dancing the night away in the Caribbean a few weeks after her treatment using her own stem cells.
So how did Sherry’s regenerative medicine journey lead her to the Caribbean and many nights on the dance floor? Let us start by first explaining a little about lumbar fusions and knee replacement.
The Problem with Lumbar Fusion
A lumbar fusion involves fusing together two or more back bones into one solid bone to make a section of the back immobile. While there are patients out there whose back conditions are so extreme that lumbar fusion may truly be their only solution, in our experience these are the exception, not the rule.
Most patients end up agreeing to a lumbar fusion after physical therapy, steroids, and other treatments have failed to provide relief for the back condition. Unfortunately, once the surgery is done, many patients either develop complications or brand new problems related to the surgery. In fact, this is one of the surgeries we categorize as “damage to accomplish a goal” as it might fix one thing but it sets in motion a domino effect of more problems. Leading the pack here is adjacent segment disease. You can learn more about this by watching Dr. Centeno’s brief video below:
The Problem with Knee Replacement
Where do we begin on the problem with knee replacement? First, let’s change this to the problems with knee replacement. First, orthopedic surgeons have been performing these extreme surgeries—cutting out painful knees and installing artificial (metal, plastic, ceramic, etc.) knees for decades with no high-level randomized controlled trials (RCT) providing supporting evidence that knee replacement is really effective. Again, this is one of those surgeries that should be reserved for only the most extreme cases, in patients with the most severe knee dysfunctions. Yet they’re being marketed to and performed on younger and younger patients with milder and milder knee issues with each passing year. A sampling of the many other problems with knee replacement follows:
- Patients are told their artificial knees should last 10–15 years, but many, especially younger, more active patients have premature failure (in as little as five years after surgery) of the device.
- A knee replacement may not eliminate or relieve your knee pain.
- Many patients are still taking pain medications a year after surgery, and in some cases, these patients weren’t taking pain meds prior to surgery.
Sherry Opts for Interventional Orthopedics Solutions for Her Knee and Back Issues
Fortunately, Sherry doesn’t have to worry about all of the problems with lumbar fusion and knee replacement. Instead of orthopedic surgery, she opted for interventional orthopedics to treat her knee and back issues.
Using the traditional-medicine indicators, Sherry met all the metrics for bilateral knee replacement. She had arthritis in all three compartments of her knee (the term for this is tricompartmental arthritis). In her low back, she also fit the traditional mold for a lumbar fusion. She had disc degeneration and arthritis in her facet joints. This was causing stenosis and pinched nerves.
Sherry did her research, however, and knew the risks involved with surgery. She found Dr. Hyzy at our clinic, who performed an advanced image-guided stem cell treatment on her knee using Sherry’s own bone marrow stem cells. She also received two Regenexx DDD procedures, which involved injecting her own platelets and growth factors around the irritated structures (nerves, joints, muscles, and ligaments) in her lower back. To read Sherry’s experience in her own words, click here.
Less than three weeks after her regenerative medicine treatment, Sherry was vacationing on a Caribbean cruise and spending most every night on the dance floor, and best of all, she was able to do this because she said no to lumbar fusion and knee replacement and yes to interventional orthopedics solutions.