Hello everyone! In this presentation [Dr. Bell is] going to be talking about joint rejuvenation therapy and how regenerative medicine is changing the future of care for patients who suffer from degenerative arthritis and osteoarthritis in the spine and the joints.
What is Joint Rejuvenation Therapy?
So when we talk about joint rejuvenation therapy, what we're actually talking about is regenerative medicine. You may or may not have heard of this term before, but regenerative medicine is a branch of medical care that focuses on utilizing therapies and treatment modalities that help the body regenerate or repair damaged or defective cells tissues, or structures. It's also a non-surgical and also drug-free approach, and the main point of what regenerative medicine really is is that it unlocks the body's self-healing capabilities.
Five or six years ago you might have heard this called stem cell therapy or some sort of stem cell treatment. That type of thing, it’s no longer called that. It's usually called regenerative medicine now just because of some rules with the FDA. But when we talk about stem cells and stem cell research, these are things like you might have heard of in the news where scientists can use stem cells to grow new organs, or they can help nerves regenerate or we can do things like we do in our office here at Vitality Integrative Wellness and that's to help slow the progression of arthritis for our patients who suffer from joint disease and joint degeneration.
Meet the Vitality Integrative Wellness Team
I wanted to take a quick moment and introduce you to our treatment team here at Vitality Integrative Wellness. We'll go left to right!
We have Dr. Matt on the left. He is our chiropractor and does our new patient consultations. We have Dr. Jen, who is our chiropractor, and she also does new patient consultations out of our Temecula office. Next, we have Allison. She's our Nurse Practitioner and you'll meet with her and consult with her out of both offices she goes back and forth. And then on the right, this is me, Dr. Bell. I guess you could call me the founder and CEO. I'm not too big on that title, but this is a creation that I had in 2001, and we've just been expanding and doing great things for patients ever since. I love what we do, and we have a fantastic team here at Vitality Integrative Wellness.
The number one thing that I would say to any person that I met on the street, or if somebody asked me what I do and they were suffering from some sort of back problem or joint problem, is that we can help you. That's something patients these days don't always feel like medicine has their best interest at heart, or maybe it's failed them, maybe it's not working, but I just wanted to tell you a little bit about our background and we started as a chiropractic clinic in 2001.
Where It All Began
I opened our first office in old town Temecula, and then we progressed to a clinic in Hemet around 2005. We've had those two locations and we're looking to add more down the road, but what we did in 2014 is we medically integrated. This means we blended our chiropractic practice with a medical practice so to speak, and we brought medical services into our clinic.
I started to realize that there's so much good that happens in medicine, but it never gets utilized because it's overshadowed by pharmaceutical drugs and it's overshadowed by sometimes even bias against natural healing methods or natural health care. Then, of course, there's a large push with joints to have surgery as well, and I recognize that there's a large number of patients that actually don't want those things, but they don't know where to go. We brought all of that together, and that's why we call it Vitality Integrative Wellness.
How Vitality Integrative Wellness is Different
We are one of the only true integrative medical facilities. There are others, of course; it's not that we're the only ones, but what makes us unique at vitality is that we do what's called team treatment. By that, I mean that in a lot of integrative clinics, there's a bunch of doctors, you know, sometimes 10 or 15. They all rent a little room so it's integrated, but you have to book separate appointments with the other doctors.
A least with our group, we are a little bit more narrowly focused on back pain, joint pain, functional medicine, and some other things. Sometimes our nurse practitioner, along with our chiropractor and our massage therapist, can all be done in the same visit. That's the nice thing. It cuts the time down, and you don't have to visit multiple doctors. Typically, we can get done in a 30 to 60-minute appointment which might take you two to three hours in another doctor's office.
The other nice thing is that because regenerative medicine has so much research behind it, it's very safe. It also has a high amount of successful patient outcomes as well which is very, very good; because it does allow us to do some things for you that other more traditional Western healthcare practices may not necessarily be able to do.
Treat the Root Cause of Your Pain
Common misconception, or at least maybe a patient assumption, is that they're coming into our clinic for pain because of the amount of inflammation and damage that can be happening in joints. Of course, we recognize that pain is part of the issue, but pain is not the problem.
What I want you to imagine is if you could walk your dog again. If you could exercise without pain. If you could get up out of a chair without help or get a good night's sleep because you're not hurting. Maybe you're tired of the side effects of drugs, and you want to eliminate some of those from your life, or even just laugh at a joke because life isn't so serious.
My point here is, is that when you come to our office, what you're seeing or what you're experiencing is an opportunity to get your life back. We don't just look at ourselves as just getting you out of pain. That can be done in many different ways, but what we have a bigger vision for you. You know time is the only thing that you can't get back in life, and it's the one thing you cannot buy. It’s something you can't commoditize, and so if we can shorten that time that you are allowed to get your life back or that you can start living your life again, then we look at that as our main purpose in treating you as a patient.
Understanding Your Body - What are “stem cells”?
So I know I mentioned that we can't use the words stem cell therapy, but I do feel it's important to understand what stem cells do in our body. I'll just teach you some of the basics. It's not like we're trying to make you a scientist or anything like that, but it is important to understand how your body heals and why stem cells are so important in that healing. One of the things we have to remember is that we need to take care of the cells in our body. We have to take care of our bodies. We only get one and so our stem cells age as we get older so do our stem cells. If we are healthy or unhealthy, then stem cells tend to follow that similar pattern as well.
Stem cells can be affected by your environment, either positively or negatively, so things like stress, smoking, drinking, and medications that you take, diseases that you suffer from or have had can all affect the quality of your stem cells, how fast your stem cells regenerate themselves or turn over and where they need to be utilized in the body.
We do tend to have a limited supply, at least that's what the research has shown us, that as we get older, the number of stem cells that we have in our body is decreasing, and that also stem cells tend to age. So just like as we get older, it sometimes feels like we're slowing down or we can't move as fast, or we don't recover from sickness and disease, and they're finding that stem cells also are aging. So they slow down, they don't turn over as fast and that's why it's a little harder to heal once you hit about 50 years of age. Stem cells are cells inside of our body that provide new cells throughout our lifetime.
The natural healing cell in the body is a stem cell, and a stem cell can develop into all other cells, so stem cells can become cartilage, ligament, bone, brain cells, and blood cells – they can even have the ability to regenerate cells in your heart, your liver, your pancreas, and your lung. Anytime your body needs a regenerative process, even as simple as a cut on your skin, that's going to happen because of stem cells.
Chronic Diseases and Stem Cells
The thing to think about stem cells is stem cells give us life. One thing that we know about chronic disease and arthritis is it would qualify as a chronic disease. In the last 25 years of using alternative medicine and Western medicine, there really has been no real good process to help arthritis sufferers. This is the first time since 2014 we've been doing this, about eight years or so, where we can actually say that arthritic degeneration can be stopped. It can be slowed and, in some cases, even be reversed. The future for arthritis sufferers is very promising.
Now, chronic disease management in a traditional Western health care setting is going to involve largely drug steroidal treatments, physical therapy, and then eventually probably surgery if it gets to that point. There really wasn't any hope except for patients to follow that track and so that would allow arthritis to degenerate and cause joint destruction.
The History of Regenerative Medicine
But regenerative medicine has been around about 25 years. It really gained popularity about 10 years ago, and so this is what's paved the way to slow the damage and help patients find pain relief. Regenerative medicine is very widely researched. Most of the major universities in the United States and around the world have a department of regenerative medicine or a department of regenerative studies. That's where scientists and researchers spend their time learning about how stem cells function learning how they work in our bodies, and what type of signaling do they do.
That's what they're finding lately. Stem cells are really signaling cells that initiate a healing response through your immune system. So again, this is a great time to have an issue or really doesn't mean that we're glad that you haven't had pain or that you're in pain, but if you are going to have arthritis and get it, this is probably one of the best times that I've seen in the last 25 years where patients actually have the ability to overcome a chronic disease like Arthritis.
Being Involved in Your Healing Journey
One of the most interesting things that I've always found to be quite astonishing is how many patients come into our office for a consultation, and they've never seen their X-rays or the doctor ordered X-rays, and never called them to tell them there was something wrong. And there was clearly something wrong when they brought them into us. That's not all doctors, of course, but many, many patients have never even seen what arthritis looks like. They're just told.
We, as a clinic, love to educate our patients. We believe that patients are part of the process here, and so it's a very collaborative environment. If you look at a knee, you can see here on the left that this is a normal knee. The knee looks very straight. The joint is very clear, and it looks to be well-aligned. If you look at the joint on the right where it says arthritic knee, you can see that the cartilage is clearly thinner than it should be. It's uneven. You could maybe see that the knee looks like it's almost out of alignment or looks like it's almost ready to slide off to the left. There, you can see bone spurs. You can see calcifications in some of the ligaments and some of the muscles, and so this is definitely something that's very common that we see in our office when patients suffer from a knee problem.
We have a hip here. Hips are somewhat challenging, even in regenerative medicine, and my personal opinion is that it's allowed to continue for such a long time with medical treatments. It's a very strong joint, so it can take a lot of abuse before it actually has to be surgically operated on. If I could give any advice to a patient suffering from a hip problem, it's is that it's to treat it early. The reason that is is because once the joint becomes bone on bone, which is what you can see on the right, then this is something that no amount of regenerative medicine, no amount of rehabilitation is going to fix – something that's completely worn out. You have to leave some soft tissue in there. You have to leave some fluid in the joint. There must be something to work with essentially. With hips, it is something where if we do have to turn away a case or it's something where we cannot take the case, it's usually going to be a hip. It doesn't mean to count yourself out that we can't help you; it's just we will be very careful because we need to make sure that it's going to be successful for you. In doing so, we have to have enough tissue left that we can actually affect a change in the hip joint.
Another very common condition that we see is shoulder problems. The shoulder is a unique joint because it's largely attached by mainly soft tissue, so muscles, ligaments, cartilage, etc. The joint isn't a typical ball and socket joint or articular joint. The shoulder joint is also the most mobile joint in the body, so it can be very susceptible to damage and when it does get damaged, it can be very painful. We, of course, as human beings use our arms and hands for almost all activities, and so if we lose the ability to use our shoulder, it's a very debilitating situation.
Some common things you might have heard of are rotator cuff injuries, labrum tears, cartilage, and joint degeneration in the AC joint. It’s also called the glenohumeral joint. The shoulder also has nerves from the neck that run down through the shoulder joint. Shoulder problems can also cause things like numbness and tingling in the hands, loss of grip strength, and the feeling of carpal tunnel.
Shoulders fortunately respond very well to regenerative medicine because of the soft tissue that is involved with the shoulder. That's one of the best things. Regenerative medicine has available treatments and therapies. We have a whole separate presentation on the spine and some of the things that we can do for the spine, but we do have a regenerative medicine program if you are suffering from degenerative disc disease, bulging discs, spinal stenosis, or it's the term that you might have heard called, pinched nerves. It’s kind of a layman's term, but that's a lot of times what doctors will explain it as.
Essentially there's some sort of cartilage or joint destruction going on, and that's putting pressure on the nerves. If it's in the lower back, you may have heard of sciatica before, you might have also heard of peripheral neuropathy. That's another one that's very common when we get low back pain, and I don't have a neck x-ray here, but the same thing would apply if you have neck pain or you have damage from whiplash or a car accident. Or maybe you played football or sports when you were younger, and your neck curve is not going in the right direction. We again do very, very well with that. You can imagine with our background being in chiropractic care, this is one of our areas of expertise. I feel we do a really good job with low back and neck pain.
Holistic Methods vs Pharmaceutical Methods
You've heard me mention this briefly already, but traditional Western treatments often fail when it comes to chronic disease. Again, this isn't a bash on traditional Western medicine. We're not anti-western medicine, but when we see the same things happening over and over again where patients just keep getting more and more pain pills, more and more drugs, more and more cortisone shots, and they're not getting better, then you know it might be time to look at a different alternative.
We want to just get our point across that medication can be very good, especially in an emergency situation or something that's short-term. Pain medication sometimes can be helpful, so I would say, you know, one month to maybe three months max. If pharmaceutical drugs aren't helping you, there's probably something else going on in there. Maybe it's time to look for an alternative. If you look at the history of pain medications and anti-inflammatories, or you look up the intended use of the drug many times, you'll see that these drugs are only intended for short-term use – four to six weeks. We find patients who are chronically being left on these medications. Sometimes two, three, four years!
That's definitely something where you can have issues with liver problems and kidney problems. It can cause all kinds of different side effects when these medications are taken long term so it's definitely something that we feel patients should be informed of. A lot of times, they're not cortisone shots; they are very similar. It's one of the more popular injections, I would say, for joints.
Cortisone is an injection of a very powerful anti-inflammatory given through a needle and a syringe directly into the joint. Some of the side effects of cortisone can be that it'll slow the repair of collagen, and it's usually only a temporary fix. Even though it may get you out of pain quickly, usually we find the first one works quite well, and then the following two they're given (cortisone shots are given in a series of three), the following two don't work that well, A lot of times that's frustrating for the patient, because they feel like, “well, it didn't work”, or you know. But there was no education given as to as to what's going on with the intention of cortisone. It is only considered a temporary fix that is not a permanent solution for arthritis.
When we think about stem cells, and we think about what stem cells do, stem cells are natural anti-inflammatory cells or they are the anti-inflammatory cells within our body. It may sound a little counterproductive, but it's important that the body is allowed to go through its inflammatory process because those inflammatory cells are what signal stem cells.
Remember we talked about stem cells potentially being signaling cells? If you think of inflammation like the fire alarm going off, then the stem cells would be the fire department heading to that area to repair the damage. There have been drugs invented called anti-inflammatories. NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Cortisone is a steroid. It's an anti-inflammatory, so if you can imagine that these drugs block that inflammation, then effectively drugs cortisone are going to block the signaling of stem cells. This can affect the ability of stem cells to heal damaged joints.
There's research that's shown that cortisone shots actually allow arthritis to progress faster versus somebody who never got a cortisone shot. All this information is out there, and the common misconception is that anti-inflammation is bad and then we need to take anti-inflammatories to block the inflammation. When in fact, the opposite is true. If we allow the body's stem cells to do the healing, then we will see much better results. In fact, that's what we see with our patients when they decide to go under a regenerative medicine program.
Regenerative Medicine Program at Vitality Integrative Wellness
They're healing within weeks, sometimes even days, but generally, it takes a few weeks to a couple of months, but the two to three years of suffering can go away very quickly. Within just a matter of a short amount of time, since stem cells are the healing cells of your body, one of the main goals that we have for our patients when they need regenerative medicine is that we need to turn on that power of healing. The other thing that we also do that's unique in terms of just the philosophy of seeing patients and helping patients is that instead of treating the symptoms (which would be pain or inflammation), we want to look at what the underlying cause of that is or get to the root of the problem.
if you've ever heard that term before, we use diagnostic testing to uncover the cause of why your health has declined. Our care programs are also customized per patient, so it's not a “one-size-fits-all” treatment. Each person has a different unique set of characteristics or a unique set of problems. We want to make sure that we pay attention to that. Again, that is also like I said what makes us unique.
A program, if you were wondering what that would look like, is generally going to involve a combination of umbilical cord vesicles, possibly PRP, which is Platelet Rich Plasma. We also will incorporate chiropractic care, laser therapy, and ozone therapy under a process called prolozone, and we can also use non-surgical spinal decompression (which is a machine that we have in the offices that will help patients who have neck and lower back disc degeneration long term). The best way to prevent this from happening is to develop new habits of nutrition and exercise that allow your body to maximize healing and keep inflammation levels low. This is how we approach this type of program with our patients.
If you talk to some of the patients in the office or look at some of our testimonials on our website or online, you can see that most patients do report a very positive outcome. Like I said earlier, we use an integrated approach, so we're never going to just do an injection and send you away. We've had patients show up to our office who have had that happen, and they don't seem to get as good of results as they do when we put them under a combination of therapies.
That's our program. It's centered around rehabilitation and improvement and function in order to do what it takes. A couple of different things need to happen – we have to reduce inflammation, we have to stimulate the body in a way that will get the healing process moving, and once things start to improve, we have to come in and realign the joint. Sometimes the chiropractic care there are exercises that we do and sometimes we might even have to do trigger point therapy with massage. Sometimes we may have to do some other types of injections like we talked about, so again, it's not a “one-size-fits-all” treatment. That's what our consultation process is for. To figure that out. But an average program is going to last around one and a half to three months.
What can you do?
Easily one of the most successful things we've added to our practice in the last 10 years has been joint rejuvenation therapy. The technology behind regenerative medicine. If you're looking for an alternative to surgery, or if you're tired of taking medications that are no longer working, or you are being told you have early onset arthritis, or maybe you have achy joints and you just don't know why your joints are achy, then there's certainly a reason there that I would think for you to give us a call!
Talk to us and see what we can offer you as a natural, non-surgical, non-drug alternative. Our new patient coordinators are standing by to take your phone call, and we would love to consult with you. Come to our office and meet us and have that consultation! It does last about an hour or so, so it's very thorough. You'll hopefully learn some information. Learn some new stuff that you can do to take a little bit more of a proactive approach to your health. It also invites spouses, friends, and family members that you might know who have the same problems or similar problems to give us a call as well.
If you'd like more information, we're on the web at www.growwithvitality.com. We're also on Facebook and Instagram, and our handle is @vitalityintegrativewellness. Thank you for listening to our presentation today on joint rejuvenation therapy. We look forward to seeing you in the office very soon!