Today is day 5 after having a Stem Cell Bone Marrow Prolotherapy done for a torn Meniscus. I had it done in Oak Park, IL at CaringMedical.com by Dr. Ross Hauser, M.D. It was for a complex torn meniscus (a MRI confirmed this) due to an injury incurred doing the Cornell Crack on July 2nd, 2011.
I discussed the hiking injury before getting the MRI here.
The whole procedure is detailed, photographically here.
Of all the things that encouraged me ahead of time about the procedure was this report of its high success rate.
The summary quote is here:
"Patients stated that the response to Prolotherapy met their expectations in 27 out of the 28 knees (96%). Only one out of the 28 patients ended up getting surgery after Prolotherapy. Based on the results of this study, Prolotherapy appears to be an effective treatment for meniscal pathology. While this is only a pilot study, the results are so overwhelmingly positive that it warrants using Prolotherapy as first-line therapy for meniscal pathology including meniscal tears and degeneration."
I was really impressed with the doctor, his clinic and nurses. The lobby was full of patients, almost all of whom had seen the doctor before and who raved about the doctor's ability. One was a female hiker from Colorado.
I was very impressed with the diagnostic skills of the doctor. He spent about 20 minutes with me before the procedure (the nurse about 50 minutes before, during the procedure, and about 20 minutes after the procedure, and she called me up at home the following day). The whole procedure once it is started takes about 15 minutes.
The anesthesia, only local (procaine), was not even felt as anesthesia, and I did not fully realize I was under anesthesia until it wore off about 9 hours later. By the time I landed back in Albany NY, I did have to limp to the terminal entrance and drive home (thank goodness it was my left knee).
The next day I was so sore, I used old crutches to get around. However, the following day, I was able to walk without crutches, and do three separate 1/2 mile walks around the block.
The subsequent day (yesterday), I did a two mile walk around town, no problem at all.
The doctor told me he's thinking my knee will get back 80% as good as it was pre-injury within 2 months. And he says until it gets back 100% as good as it was pre-injury, he recommends a second procedure about 2 months from now (I scheduled it in January for insurance reasons, ie: my HSA account gets an infusion of $1,000 each year from my company and I can pay for the procedure with it).
CaringMedical.com expects full payment the day of procedure and I was very pleasantly surprised the cost was $800 less than I had anticipated, they recently reduced the price of the procedure. The procedure was $1375 but a mandatory first office visit was added on for $250, but the next time, there will be no first office visit fee. I had thought with the medication/supplements for a 2 month period (recommended), the flight, the cabs, the procedure, the office visit, I'd be spending $2900 but I got by with $2100, of which caringmedical.com's payment was $1375 for the procedure/office visit and $300 for two months worth of their special supplements for post-procedure use.
I am already able for the first time since the injury to slowly walk down the stairs without feeling the twinge/weakness I have consistently felt since the injury. In fact the major problem I had with the knee before the surgery was the problem walking down ordinary stairs (I found it easier to hike down a mountain trail than ordinary stairs). My knee does not feel completely like it was July 1st, but I think Dr. Hauser's prediction of 80% recovery towards the pre-injury goal is completely reasonable.
In his diagnosis, he felt, in contrast to the MRI report, which said there was no evidence of a tear in the ACL, that the ACL in my left knee was weaker than that in my right knee, and he thinks that was a contributing factor to the original injury. So in his prolotherapy procedure, he treated not only the torn meniscus, but the ACL.
They took the bone marrow (which has stem cells) from the healthy right knee to put in my left knee. There was zero pain in the right knee after the surgery.
I'll keep the board posted but so far I am 100% satisfied with the money spent and the way things are going.
By the way, one more link in favor of Prolotherapy. It is from the former US Surgeon General, Dr. Edward Koop.
p.s., I have posted a lot of research on Prolotherapy in this thread in the forum, Views from the Top.