Posted by: jility | August 28, 2011

Sir C’s Knees

After going through some major stuff with his knee, I asked Sir Cussalot to write a guest blog for me on his experience getting stem cell treatment (and other things) on his knee. This is what he wrote:

In response to the great number of requests (one) for a report on my knee treatment, here’s more than you ever wanted to know about my experience at Regenerexx in Colorado.

On Monday, I flew from Portland to Denver. I rented a car and drove to Broomfield near Boulder. I stayed at an extended stay place so I could have a kitchen and keep food there. I knew I’d be too sore after the first day to be eating out. 

The first person I saw on Tuesday was the guy to measure and fit an unloader brace for my knee. 

The second person I saw was a PT guy. He evaluated my ranges of motion on my legs, arms and back. During the various tests, he determined that my left leg is weaker and has less range of motion than the right leg. Also, the left knee joint was considerably looser than the right knee joint.

Then he treated my back and leg muscles with IMS (Intramuscular Stimulation). Most of the needles he inserted didn’t hurt but then I’m used to having Acupuncture. A couple of needles did hit a sensitive spot and made me cringe a little. I haven’t noticed any good or bad effects from the IMS but it would probably take more than one treatment to help.

Then they drained my body of all its blood; well, 15 of those blood test vials anyway. It seemed like a hell of a lot of blood watching the vials fill one after the other. They extract Growth Factors from the blood to use in my back and in conjunction with the stem cells that they will collect the next day to use in my knee.

After the blood draw, the doc did a physical and ultrasound evaluation of my legs and knees. I had previously sent him all of my MRI images and reports but he said he likes to see the problems in real time. His physical exam showed that the left knee is much looser than the right knee. With his twisting, pulling and cranking, the right knee had very little incorrect movement; maybe a sixteenth of an inch or less. When he did the cranking on my left knee, I could actually feel and see the motion of maybe a quarter of an inch in several directions. This meant that along with the shredded meniscus in my left knee, the ACL, MCL and LCL were very loose. The physical exam also showed that the left foot was considerably weaker than the right foot. He said that this was caused by the nerve pinching in my L4-L5 area of my spine that he had previously seen on the MRIs.

His ultrasound exam of the knee verified that indeed the ACL, MCL and LCL were loose but not torn. The ultrasound also showed, as had the MRIs, that the meniscus is torn in many places, very thin and squished out of the joint on both sides.

Then with a needle, the doc drained the Baker’s Cyst in the back of my left knee removing about three or four tablespoons of fluid and then used Prolotherapy to encourage healing of the pocket left by draining the cyst by injecting an irritant of dextrose solution into the area. 

That was the end of the procedures for the first day. I was glad; I’d had enough poking and prodding for one day. 

 On Wednesday morning, they cleaned and numbed the skin around my butt and back hip area. The doc used some of the growth factors from Tuesday’s blood draw and injected them into my back at the L4-L5 area. The growth factors and blood platelets are supposed to help the nerves regenerate and promote healing by attracting stem cells to the area. The FDA won’t let them inject stem cells directly into the back. Ha, that’s another story.

Hopefully, that treatment will help with the weaker left leg and right butt/hamstring pain. 

Then they shoved a big-ass needle through the hip bones three times on each side and withdrew  several tablespoons total of marrow blood. It only hurt slightly as the needle went through the skin and muscle. It didn’t hurt as the needle went through the bone even though he used considerable pressure; I just felt a dis-concerning pop each time as the needle punctured the hip bone. They extract the stem cells from the marrow to be injected into my knee later in the day.

Then the doc collected  a couple of tablespoons of bloody-looking fat from my butt. I’d hoped he would suck out several pounds of fat from my belly but he said taking fat from the butt is less painful than taking it from my belly; no sense of humor. Then he injected some of the bloody fat into the inside of my knee under the MCL to push the meniscus back in. He made sure that the needle was in the right place by viewing the knee with ultrasound as he inserted the needle. He saved some of the fat to inject under the LCL to push back in the meniscus on the outside of the knee later. The injected fat does two things: it pushes the meniscus back in and provides tissue for the stem cells to convert to ligament tissue or meniscus tissue under direction of the surrounding tissue chemistry. 

 Then, finally, they were ready to inject my knee with the stem cells. They cleaned and numbed the skin around my knee. First, they injected some of the fat into the outside of my knee to push the protruding meniscus back in with the guidance of ultrasound. 

Then the doc stuck in 6 needles, 3 on each side of the kneecap, which he used to place the stem cells and growth factors into the MCL and LCL area again under guidance from ultrasound. Then, with a needle about 4 feet long, he injected more stem cells and growth factors into the meniscus and ACL areas. He pumped as many stem cells as he had into my knee. I could feel the pressure increasing. 

I only slept a few minutes all that night. The doc gave me Percocet to help with the pain but it didn’t help much. The knee felt like a big sore balloon.

OWIE!!!!!

I have to wear the unloader brace continuously for 2 weeks (I can loosen the straps at night); then during the day for two more weeks. I have to keep weight off the knee to protect the stem cells while they promote growth and healing; don’t want to squish the little buggers. The brace also has pads at the sides to help hold the fat injection/meniscus in place. I also have to use an infrared heat pad for 30 minutes twice a day to help with inflammation. For 6 weeks before the treatment and 12 weeks after, NSAIDs such as Advil and Celebrex can not be used. NSAIDs will cause the stem cells to discriminate to bone instead of tissue. I can only use Tylenol or Percocet.

MORE OWIE!!!!

The pain has decreased considerably from the first night after the treatments but is still quite sore. I’m using one or two crutches along with the brace to make sure I keep weight off of the knee. In about a week, I can start walking a little and then increase the walking each week up to 6 weeks. Then, depending on how the knee feels, I can start to run; just a very tiny bit at first.

I may need a second stem cell treatment in 6 to 12 weeks depending on how this first treatment goes. I hope not but there’s a lot of rebuilding that has to happen in that poor old decrepit knee.


Responses

  1. Same place, same brace. I already had a different unloader brace from the University of Washington Sports Specialty clinic for my left knee with the hinge on the inside. So I wear two braces not matched! I like the one from the U of W for running. I have osteoarthritis with bone on bone medial and patella, but have some space and cartilage on the lateral part of my knees. I also have some tears in my knees. And, old baker’s cysts which are not bad so they didn’t drain or treat them. Otherwise, my treatment was almost identical to yours, however, I didn’t wear my braces at night. I had to put them on if I got up to go to the bathroom. I cut the feet out of large leotards and put the braces on over the leotards and didn’t get any rubbing or blisters. But, my butt was sore for a week and flopping down in a chair was added insult! I finished the treatment November 5th and I would like to run my poodle in Spokane December 27, 28, 29. Would you wait longer or try running?
    Kay Acres & Poodle Max

  2. How about another blog post about the knee? Would love to hear how things are going.

  3. Richie,
    I wouldn’t worry about the spelling. The post was hilarious and made me laugh !
    Thanks. Hopefully Mel will be distracted too !

  4. Sorry about my lousy spelling;prefer science over English writing:O)) Rich

  5. Shit, I think I’ll just do heavy squats 3 times a week 5 set 5 reps and take HGH, and testosterone injections-along with some codein type pain killers till the quads and hamm strings hold up thelegs which have zilch meniscus and cartalidge

  6. I’ve heard of redistributing fat, ‘butt’ this is ‘kick-ass’ stuff! Speedy recuperation, Mel! Thanks for sharing!

  7. YIKES !!!!!!!!!
    The words were painful enough…. but the pics…… almost fainted ! 🙂

  8. wow Mel — thanks for the report. I hope the stem cell/fat treatment is successful! Hope the pain decreases rapidly too. Helen, thanks for encouraging Mel to write about the procedure — fascinating!


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