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"My Joint Pain is Unbearable": How To Go From Pain to Gain [E048]

Wear and tear on the body happens whether we like it or not. We may begin to develop arthritis. We feel like the aging process has been sped up and we begin to slow down. This can be extremely frustrating as we cannot do some of the activities we used to! We begin to ask what helps joints. Dr. Bryan Joseph shares his personal story on how extreme pain in his 20s caused him to go from an athlete to hardly being able to walk. After doctor visit upon doctor visit and no answers, he finally discovered PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and his life changed completely.

Table Of Contents

What Helps Joints: An Introduction

What Helps Joints: An Introduction
Photographer: Clem Onojeghuo | Source: Unsplash

I am going to shed a little bit of light on a topic that many people experienced trouble with and that’s issues with joints, joint pains, arthritis, and just feeling like you’re getting old by seeing things break down in your joints.

There’s a normal process of aging that all of us are going to go through. Just the micro traumas that accumulate over a period of years causes a normal wear and tear for all of us. Kind of like the treads on your car tires. The longer that you ride and the more miles that you put on those cars, the more likely that the treads are going to thin down and eventually need to be replaced.

Well, here’s the thing. In our bodies, we don’t have the ability to replace, I guess we could do joint replacements, but it’s not ideal. We don’t get a another body. We might be able to get some new joints. So when wear and tear begins to beat down on our joints, whether it be our shoulders, our elbows, our knees, our hips, our back, and we begin to develop what’s called osteoarthritis from this wear and tear, or I guess more commonly known as arthritis. We feel like sometimes the aging process has been sped up and we slow down and we have aches and pains and we’re unable to sometimes be as physically active as we once were. And that takes us away from some of the things that we love.

Wear and tear is natural

So let’s talk about this a little bit. Wear and tear happens whether we like it or not, because just time that goes by causes stress of gravity in the way that we use our body. So we can either see joints break down quickly or slowly. Slowly happens from the wear and tear over time. Quickly happens from traumas.

If any one of us have experienced, and I’m sure almost everybody alive has experienced some kind of a trauma, which means that you’ve been in a car accident or you had a fall or when you were playing youth sports, you had a collision or a broken bone, separated a shoulder, twisted your knee. Maybe you were out skiing, maybe you were out surfing. I don’t know what your thing is, but whatever it was, maybe you ran into some kind of a trauma. Those traumas, you feel those and you experience an injury. And in that process when you experience an injury, there’s a lot of times that that injury doesn’t fully heal.

The body naturally is smart and it tries to go through a healing process on its own whenever we hurt it. For instance if we sprain our ankle, we see naturally that it swells up, sometimes it bruises and that is our body’s way of telling us to slow down, allow that tissue to heal. And it’s bringing a lot of the healing principles or chemicals in your body to that injured area. A lot of times the tissue will heal, but other times it will only heal partially. And when it heals, partially we’re left with a joint that’s breaking down faster than it should.

Macro & Microtraumas

Macro & Microtraumas
Photographer: Nino Liverani | Source: Unsplash

So there are two reasons that the joints breakdown. There’s macrotraumas, which are something like an injury, like I just mentioned. And then there’s microtraumas which are a wear and tear over a period of time, but either way, they both end up putting us in the same spot where we just don’t feel like we can move our body the same way and we don’t feel like we’re as youthful and vibrant as we once were. Nobody likes that. I don’t like it. And we hear patients actually come in and complain of all sorts of aches and pains all the time because of those traumas that they’ve experienced.

So it’s a little different than sickness. When we’re sick or have a failing organ or tissue that’s breaking down or a disease, then it’s a little bit different than the feeling that we feel when we simply have joints that are broken down or breaking down.

But I could think of many, many scenarios where people have come into the office here and talked about how much their knee discomfort or knee pain has stopped them or slowed them down from playing basketball outside with their kids. It’s put them in a situation where they’re unable to go on a ski trip with their family. Or people that have bad shoulders just want to go out and play catch with their grandkids in the backyard with a football or baseball and they’re unable to do it. Or their grandkids are asking them, can we go bowling? And because of a bad hip or a bad shoulder, they’re unable to participate in those activities.

Dr. Bryan’s Hip Pain Story

Dr. Bryan's Hip Pain Story
Photographer: Steve Halama | Source: Unsplash

Personally, maybe about 15 years ago, gosh, maybe a little bit long, probably about 17 years ago, I was just coming out of chiropractic school and I had played a lot of sports growing up and I had dealt with a lot of microtraumas, wear and tear. I had a few macrotraumas or injuries, but there was a situation that I ran into when I just graduated chiropractic school that I want to share with you.

I had finished school. I had understood a little bit more about the human body, the way it heals, the use of chiropractic care to what helps joints bring the body back up into a more healthy, vibrant state and then here I am with this immense pain around my hip and pubic symphysis and pelvic floor, to the point where it felt like I was getting a stabbing knife in my hip.

I had gone to many chiropractors for different adjustments, treatments, muscle therapies, trying to manipulate and help the pain. I had been to a orthopedic surgeon who ordered an MRI on my hip to try to see if we could figure out what helps joints. I had been to a urologist who was checking for a hernia that could be contributing to some of this discomfort or pain, because the pain put me at an age, I was only in my twenties and I had gotten to a point where I felt like I couldn’t participate in any of the activities that I once did or any of the sports or let alone I was having trouble walking, which for me when I went from being an athlete to unable to hardly walk without pain, I started to seep down into a state of almost depression.

Pain can really disrupt your life

And it made me realize that a lot of people that are out there that are experiencing pain, previous to this experience for myself, I used to think that maybe pain was a lot in our minds, but it made me realize that it’s not only in our minds. If you actually have an injury or a bad joint, then it’s a bad joint. It causes pain and it really can disrupt your life.

Long story short, after I had seen probably no exaggeration, I would say around 12 or 13 different healthcare practitioners of different types to get really no answer. Everybody had their own suggestion of try this, try this, try that. And I had gotten multiple diagnostic imaging tests and labs run and I had had multiple doctors treat me in different ways. But at the end of the day I was still having a lot of pain in my hip and pubic symphysis and pelvic floor. I couldn’t lay on my side and lift my leg up. I’m walking, as I said, was difficult. Jogging was not even an option. It was just getting to the point where I was just starting my professional career and I was unable to even work with patients without feeling like I was in immense discomfort.

So I got sent to a doctor. Actually, it was another chiropractor, probably my fourth or fifth chiropractor that I had seen, who had recognized that the injury that I had with the pain that I had, more than likely it was coming from ligament damage rather than bone out of place or a muscle that had been strained or injured.

Dr. Ross Hauser and Prolotheraphy

Dr. Bryan's Hip Pain Story
Photographer: patrick lanza | Source: Unsplash

So he had suggested that I go see this doctor up in Chicago, who was a physiatrist by the name of Dr. Hauser, Ross Hauser. And Dr. Hauser literally changed my life.

I went up there not knowing exactly what he was going to do, but he assessed me and identified that I had something called a sports hernia, which was basically ligament damage in my pelvic floor. It had torn from all the microtraumas that I had developed over a period of years, playing sports, running, jogging, jumping. and the ligament tissue never healed fully, so it was leaving, basically every time I walked or jumped or took a step, it would separate the ligament tissue and the ligament tissues is supposed to be mended tight together. It would separate and every time it’s separated I felt this sharp discomfort. And he identified that that was actually, that was the reason why I was having the pain.

He offered a treatment, at the time it was called prolotherapy, which was injections, not medication but of sugar water, dextrose, tipped with lidocaine at the needle just to numb everything. But he gave me, I want to say he called it around 700 injections to the pelvic floor using a technique called a peppering technique, which basically he went into the skin with the needle, hit the bone where the ligaments attached and then he moved the needle around a bunch of different times.

And here’s what’s so fascinating about it, is he shooting sugar water into my body. And as he’s shooting sugar water into my body, my body, for the first time, I felt like somebody had gotten to the right spot where the injury was.

The premise behind prolotheraphy

The needle literally got to the right spot, so I knew that we were in the right area where previously months of dealing with this injury, nobody had been able to really touch that spot correctly because it was so deep. As he did the shots, it gave me a sense of hope that I hadn’t had because I was like, man, I really feel like somebody finally got to the root cause of what helps joints.

Well, prolotherapy, the premise behind prolotherapy is completely opposite of what the way in which we treat most of our injuries is today. Normally when you hurt yourself, the first thing that you’re told to do is go put an ice pack on or elevate it if you got some swelling and try to reduce the swelling and then let that tissue heal. Well, here’s what happens. When you do that, oftentimes you’re actually, you’re removing the swelling from that area. Well in the swelling is all the different chemicals that are helping those ligaments fully heal. So if you’re pushing them away from the injured area, a lot of times you’re actually short-cutting the healing experience for those ligaments.

That’s what had happened to me, where the ligaments had torn from traumas that I had experienced and they had never fully amended again. So it’s kind of like having a big cut on your arm and then you never got stitches, so the cut just kept on reopening. Well, the sugar water injections to prolotherapy, actually the methodology is when they inject the site of where the ligament damage occurred with the needle, it proliferates a new injury.

Tricking the brain to heal

It starts to trick the brain or the body to say that we’re going to recreate this injury a little bit, so that your body can now bring back all those healing principles and chemicals that were gone when you iced and when time went on and they moved on, so they can help to fully mend what helps joints.

And then in order to proliferate or regrow naturally the ligaments, I was advised to put heat packs all around the injection site. Completely opposite than what I’ve been told or you might’ve been told over the years to do. But so I had injections in the site. Then I’m surrounded all around my hips and pubic symphysis and pelvic floor with with heat packs.

And I am not exaggerating, after six or seven months of dealing with this, I left that place. By the time I got into the car and walked out of his office, I knew that he had fixed me, to the point where I almost left this brand new degree that I had just received in chiropractic college after eight years of school and I almost went back to become a physiatrist, to be able to inject people with the same healing principles of prolotherapy to what helps joints get well naturally with these types of of services.

First and foremost, find out if you’re a candidate for prolotherapy. It may work for you, it may not work for you. If the injury is ligament oriented, then a lot of times it can work. The next level of advancement from prolotherapy, and so a prolotherapy start off by injecting, like I said, sugar water into the joint.

Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy & Stem Cell Injections

Scientist with a Petri dish
Photographer: Drew Hays | Source: Unsplash

But now they’ve evolved it to the next level of advancement of injections which is called PRP, or platelet rich plasma therapy. And what that is, is when you have a bad joint, they basically draw blood from your own body, spin the blood in a centrifuge and then they re-inject the platelets back into the bad joint.

And I have seen a lot of patients that have actually had this. I’ve not had this done myself, but I’ve seen a lot of patients that have had this done for bad hips, bad knees, bad shoulders, even bad backs. And they’ve had a tremendous amount of success because the body has a lot of healing… your own natural healing cells that are being re-injected into that body to allow the tissue to start regenerating and start healing again. Really, really, really cool.

So if you got bad joints, prolotherapy is a consideration for you. PRP or platelet rich plasma therapy is a consideration for you. And the one that’s probably the newest and probably the most exciting is something called regenerative medicine or stem cell injections. Stem cell injections are really, really cutting edge and they’re helping with a ton of different conditions, not just bad joints right now. And stem cells are basically taking really, really youthful cells in infants or in placentas, and injecting those cells that what helps joints grow into who we are into a joint, and not just into a joint, but predominantly for this discussion into a joint. When they inject those into a joint, then inevitably the tissue, again, just like prolotherapy or PRP, the tissue starts to regenerate.

Using your own cells to help your body heal

So think of this. When you’re born and you’re six pounds, seven pounds, how in the world do you eventually turn into a 5 foot 10, 150, 170, 180 or 200 pound individual. Well your body has cells that it’s using to grow and proliferate growth. Well, what helps joints with stem cells, they’re now using some of those cells that help our bodies and repair throughout the course of our life, and injecting those into damaged areas such as bad joints, and allowing those cells to help your body recover, regenerate, and start to fully mend some of the injuries that it might not been able to do on its own. Really, really cool.

Actually in different countries, they’re talking about cellular therapy being cutting edge, that it’s going to be the future of healthcare and I’m in alliance with that. I really see that happening because of how many different things are able to get healed or improved when you start to use your own body’s cells or stem cells to what helps joints heal.

But other countries like I mentioned, are starting to use stem cells for autoimmune conditions that they’re seeing success with. Hair regrowth techniques are being used with stem cell and PRP. There’s even cosmetic improvements that are being made with stem cell and PRP, such as face lifts and wrinkles that are being removed because the tissue is now becoming more youthful. It’s really cool.

So if you have not looked into a PRP or stem cell at all, you really, really need to look into that if you’re seeing different things in your health or your joints that you’re unhappy with before you start to consider going down the avenue of having to have a really invasive surgery or joint replacement.

Closing Thoughts

You can look it up online. A lot of people do it all around the country. It’s not as populated yet as it will be. I can guarantee in a matter of time you will see more and more clinics offering these services because they work. I, as I said, experienced a lower level version of stem cell and PRP 15 or 17 years ago with prolotherapy, and I am ridiculously excited to hear and know that some of these advancements of what I had that changed my life, that helped me get back on track and make the pain go away so I can be fully functional again, has now been advanced to the point where they’re basically have what I had on steroids available for people. Not literally on steroids, but you get the point.

Anyway, for more information on prolotherapy or PRP or stem cell, we’ll put some information up on this podcast episode on our website. You can find this episode at thewellnessconnection.com/e48. Just know that our joints, as time goes on, do break down. Some of us, they break down fast. Some of us, they break down slow. And there are things that you can do to combat it so that you can enjoy your life and be fully active and fully functional. And we want to continue to bring those advancements in healthcare to you so you can continue to get yourself well and stay well for many years to come.

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