I often get asked, why did I become a physician? Why pain management? Why regenerative medicine?
The first question is easy. I found the human body fascinating. I’ve always been amazed at how the body heals. In fact, from what I’ve observed time and again, most people get better on their own. This is what sold me - this is how “the deal was closed,” and why I decided medical school was the only place for me.
During medical school and my internship, there was this population of people who just did not get better; they didn’t heal like the rest. They had pain issues which did not get better with the standard treatment. This was in the ‘90s when interventional and multidisciplinary pain management was coming into its own. I did a rotation with an anesthesiologist who was doing pain management, having great success with interventional injections. People were able to do physical therapy and participate in their favorite sports again, returning to their active lives. So I was sold again - I wanted to do this! So in the ‘90s and early 2000, I started my own interventional and multidisciplinary pain management department.
The early days of regenerative medicine started with PRP (platelet rich plasma) joint injections. Athletes were the first to get this therapy and the media was abuzz on how this would be the future. There was only one problem, which still exists to date: there were no good, true medical articles that supporting this therapy.
Then came the next level: stem cells. What if we could take stem cells from a patient’s own bone marrow or adipose tissue and inject this into damaged joints and tissues? This is what grabbed my attention and started my next journey.
I was an interventional pain management doctor using fluoroscopy and ultrasound guidance to do my injections. I had have been injecting muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and discs for over 20 years. I thought, “What if we could replace steroids with something better?”
Over the last five years I have been searching for the right combination of regenerative techniques for my patients. What I have found is there is not one “cookie-cutter” approach. It depends on the person’s age, type of problem and activity. And I can tell you one thing - the injection is only half the treatment.