Fifty million Americans suffer from arthritis. That number is expected to grow to 67-million in the next 15 years. The pain is becoming so excruciating that record numbers are opting for hip, shoulder and knee replacements.
But now, as Lou Baxter reports, you don't have to go under the knife to find relief.
Former State Representative John Lunsford gave speeches, shook hands and pounded the pavement for eleven years in Georgia. It all took a toll on his body.
John Lunsford, arthritis patient, said: "I was taking about 16 ibuprofen a day and sometimes I'd take two naproxen in the morning and two at night."
Lunsford was suffering from osteoarthritis. Doctors said his only solution was surgery.
John, "They first one told me I would need a total hip replacement. So, I went to get a second opinion, and he told me, I needed a total hip replacement."
Then John found the next evolution in regenerative medicine, using stem cells to target inflammatory and pain pathways.
R. Amadeus Mason, MD Emory Sports Medicine Center, said "They change the pain pathway, so it's no longer as painful. They change the inflammatory pathways in that you don't have as much inflammation being produced, and in turn, not as much pain."
Emory orthopedic specialists take the stem cells from a patient's own bone marrow, process them, and inject them back into the patients joint, causing the pain to go away.
Dr. Mason, "We have also seen regeneration of cartilage."
Patients are able to walk or drive immediately after the procedure and should experience significant overall improvement within six weeks.
John, "The implant was a little intense for a few seconds, uh, nothing you couldn't deal with. A whole lot less than a root canal."
Out of 50 patients, only one needed surgery.
Dr. Mason, "We basically turbo charged that site to heal itself, and so far, so good. "
Soooo good, and pain free. Lou Baxter, Jet 24, Action News.