Sign Up To Get Interesting Blog/News and Updates Delivered To Your Inbox     Sign Up today!

Instead Of Knee Surgery I Did This

I think it was after my third (or was it my fourth?) knee surgery my orthopod told me that my next procedure would be a full knee replacement.  I was always hopeful that if I waited long enough, and endured the pain long enough, there would be new and/or emerging procedures to help my knee issues.  I’ve been athletic all my life.  I first blew out my knee skiing in my 20’s.  I played tennis, was a runner and a workout fanatic.  I’ve now had four knee surgeries, all on the same knee, three meniscus and a full ACL reconstruction.  I have been carried off the golf course twice when my left knee failed.  I suffer from osteoarthritis now and have pain every day, particularly when I play golf.  I have had steroid shots, was contemplating PRP, gel and stem cell treatments despite having heard of mixed results. My other knee has a tear to the meniscus and is probably more painful at times than the really bad one.  One knee replacement and another scope surgery were clearly in my future.

Until seven weeks ago.

That’s when I was referred to Dr. Saju Joseph, a general surgeon here in Las Vegas, and a leader in regenerative medicine.  He gave me an amniotic fluid-based shot in each knee. (More on just what amniotic fluid is in a minute.) 

Looking at ultrasound images today, we can see what used to be bone-on-bone is instead showing cartilage regrowing in my knees. The better of my knees, the right, is nearly pain free for the first time in years.  Let me repeat that — pain free.  In my bad knee, the left, I have a fraction of the pain than I had before New Years.  Dr. Joseph says over the next six weeks or so the shots should help both knees restore themselves even more.  As of this week I am riding my exercise bike, doing exercise classes again, and playing golf nearly pain free.  It will only get better for months to come, Dr. Joseph says.  Some of the osteoarthritis may dissipate, as well, he said.

“Tissue regeneration has become the new standard for healing and repair,” according to A Primer on Amniotic Membrane Regenerative Healing, a book Dr. Joseph gave me.  “The goal of tissue regeneration is to repair or replace damaged tissue with healthy tissue that is fully functional, free of scar tissue, and completely replicates the pre-injury tissue.”

Why am I telling you this?  Because I was only a month away from scheduling a knee replacement when my husband and I found out that this amniotic regenerative therapy exists.  I’m telling you because I want you to know that there are now options available and not all have to end with a big surgery.  If you have elbow, shoulder, knee, hip, ankle and/or spinal issues, I believe this is an option to be explored.  And I am living proof it can help.

PLEASE NOTE:  Since this blog was posted, I have had a number of inquiries.  Please let me be clear:  The injections are designed to provide a PERMANENT solution, not just temporary relief.

I am not alone in my experience.  Dr. Joseph, who has trained the majority of regenerative doctors doing injections like mine in the country, has successfully treated not only recreational golfers like me, but hundreds of professional athletes.  He told me that that includes him treating about one third of the players on the professional tennis tour.  Also, dozens of major league baseball pitchers, pro basketball and hockey players (all of which are household names).  His patients include about 50 NFL players more than few of whose careers were at near-end, on whom team doctors had given up hope, until he used regenerative injections to rebuild their joints.  (If you don’t know, professional teams have official medical staffs and they have to approve treatment given to players the teams have under contract.  That means Dr. Joseph had to get “approved” to do these injections by the medical staffs of many professional clubs.  He graduated from Tufts Medical School and did his residency at Harvard before becoming vice chair of surgery at Texas Tech.)

Many people fly into Las Vegas to get treated by Dr. Joseph.  But there are doctors he has trained throughout much of the country, too.  I say people fly here to “get treated” not that they fly here to just “get injections”.  It’s not a matter of semantics, Dr. Joseph told me.  To understand a patient’s lifestyle, injuries, activities and aspirations is essential before determining which material to inject and exactly where.  Before my injections, we talked about my pain, my surgeries, my lifestyle and looked at my MRIs and did ultrasound.  That required more than just an hour.

The matrix for the injections comes from the amniotic fluid in the placenta of healthy newborns and is donated by mothers.  Neither insurance nor Medicare pay for these injections.  Nor are they inexpensive— about $1,500 is the going rate per knee as I understand.

Some closing thoughts and notes.  My injections were a bit painful — not gonna lie.  It was a needle going into my knee, after all.  I had no pain the week after my injections because the shot itself contains a week’s worth of  lidocaine and it takes that long to wear off.  During weeks two to four, as I was warned, my activity had to be limited and my pain was worse than ever as the matrix started its work.  Then, poof, in week five my pain was noticeably reduced and now, it’s week seven, my pain is almost completely gone as I wrote above (except when I do something stupid like trip getting out of my cart on the golf course like I did yesterday during horrible weather!).  Dr. Joseph says I can go out and do what I was doing pre-injection.  I’m all over that.

Even if I need a second shot on my bad knee this summer or later this year, it’s much better than the prospect of having a knee replacement.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.  For more information, please go to Summit Speciality Physicians.

Thanks for tuning in.  If you find yourself digging my blog, please feel free to forward it to a friend who might also enjoy it.  As always, I would love to hear from you — feel free to shoot me an email to with any questions, comments or suggestions for future posts.

Spread the love