Source: Amanda Brandeis KXAN
AUSTIN (KXAN) — While painkillers have an important role in healthcare, they’re commonly abused and often lead to addiction. Those who don’t want to risk getting addicted can find themselves losing hope at treating their chronic pain. But here in Austin, some patients are getting that hope back.
“I was suffering every day, and every year it was getting worse,” says B-DOE, a radio personality for KLBJ.
The pain in his knees first started after a serious car crash 15 years ago. Since then, B-DOE has battled arthritis and undergone knee surgeries to try to find relief.
“Nothing’s worked. Nothing had worked over the years to lessen that pain, a lot of ibuprofen. I’m not one who likes to take that medication to begin with.”
Nothing worked until he tried adult stem cell therapy at Bennulife.
“Adult stem cells that come from the patient’s own body. So they’re not foreign, they’re already in the patient’s body,” said Dr. Katy Moncivais, a scientist at Bennulife. “We harness them and put them where they need to go – where the patient needs a little bit of an extra boost with healing.”
Dr. Moncivais says ‘stem cell’ is really a general term that means a cell can make a copy of itself and can turn into something else.
The entire process of injecting one’s own adult stem cells takes just an hour. The patient lies face down and is given a local anesthesia. Then a doctor extracts stem cells from bone marrow in the hip, and later injects it back into the problem area.
Dr. Andres Lerner performed the procedure on B-DOE.
“I do believe that it’s going to lead to a major reduction in the use of narcotics and pain medication as a long-term plan of management for patients,” said Dr. Lerner. “This is an alternative to the more invasive surgeries.”
B-DOE says the procedure was a game-changer for healing his pain.
“I was back to normal almost in a month — pain free. It still to this day blows my mind,” he says. “I feel excited and thankful to actually wake up! When I go run to play with the kid, I can run!”
He says he hasn’t had to use any anti-inflammatory medication since his adult stem cell therapy procedure.
Dr. Lerner says right now the procedure isn’t typically covered by insurance. He says depending on the amount of stem cells and complexity, the procedure can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $6,500.
He looks forward to the day when more people are utilizing it to manage pain as many people are not yet aware of this treatment.
“If it works, and most of the time it does – you’re not taking pain medication anymore,” said Dr. Lerner. “I am a surgeon and I love surgery, it has an important place in healthcare. But surgery is something no one wants, including the surgeon! It’s something we need to do because we have no better option. Having better options to delay or avoid surgery is very exciting.”
Dr. Lerner says the length of pain relief varies from patient to patient, anywhere from a few months to several years.