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How I healed my knees naturally (without surgery).

One year post injections! 
I don't know how each of my meniscus tears happened.

I can't point to a specific moment. However, it started with pain in my knees, and within a year of my first day of pain, I could barely walk, sometimes needed crutches, and I couldn't climb the stairs in my home to say goodnight to my children. The severe pain kept me from sleeping, and I would sometimes cry trying to find a comfortable position in bed.

As an active person, a jogger, a fitness instructor, and personal trainer, my limited movement affected me mentally. I modified all my exercise, focusing on core and upper body movement, but somedays I couldn't get out of a funk. At 46 I worried that if I kept declining physically, and increased limitation of movement.

So, I looked for treatment options.

Two orthopedic surgeons, after looking at my MRI's diagnosed me with a medial meniscus tear in each knee. They diagnosed me after six months of physical therapy, which I was hopeful would heal my knees. It didn't.

Both orthopedic surgeons recommended arthroscopic surgery to remove the meniscus. The surgery would require me to use crutches for a week or two after, physical therapy for about two months, for each knee. Meniscus surgery, to scrape out the torn bits, is simply a pain management treatment, not a fix. One surgeon told me I would never run again, and would have to be cautious with lower body exercises. The surgery would also put me at greater risk for osteoarthritis. The other surgeon would give me at least five years with decreased pain, before I would need a knee replacement.

WHAT??!!!!

I tried more physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage. I changed my nutrition to an anti-inflammatory diet. I took supplements like turmeric, collagen, and glucosamine. I wanted a natural solution, but the pain remained severe, limiting even walking with my husband. So, I scheduled the surgery.

One week before the surgery for my left knee, where the tear was worse, I discovered PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) therapy. A friend of mine's mother, who ran marathons treated her torn meniscus with PRP and was running races and hiking since the treatment.

I started researching. The information I found, explained PRP re-introduces your own concentrated blood platelets into areas of chronic joint deterioration. PRP injected into the joint brings healing growth factors to the site of the injury. In the case of the injured meniscus, the damaged tissue can not repair itself. Healing in the meniscus depends on the having enough of a blood supply and/or growth factors at the site of the injury.

Three days before my scheduled surgery, I canceled it, and scheduled PRP injections in both knees at the New Jersey Regenerative Institute. I scheduled it here, because PRP is not a treatment for a torn meniscus here in my town, and I knew several people who had PRP injections for a torn meniscus at this facility. 

When I arrived for my procedure, a nurse drew two vials of my blood from my arm. Then I went to the waiting room, while a centrifuge separated my blood into rich and poor platelets, which took about 30 minutes. After this, it was time for Dr. Malanga to inject the rich platelets into my knee. 

About half an hour before I arrived, I took a Percocet Dr. Malanga had prescribed for me, to feel less pain during the injection. Flat on my back on an exam table, my husband stood next to me, as did a nurse. The doctor took a vial of my separated blood and injected it into one knee, with the help of an ultrasound machine. The sting of the needle and the feeling of the fluid entering my knee joint made tears appear in my eyes, and I exhaled a large breath, with a little "oh." It was painful, but only for about three seconds. The pain felt like a combination of a sting, and hitting your funny bone. 

The worst part? Now the doctor had to inject the second knee, and I knew what was coming! I'm grateful for the quickness of the procedure! 

When I stood up, I could walk, but my knees felt wobbly, like marionette legs, that I had to swing in front of me to walk. The entire procedure took less than an hour. Post procedure instructions banned any aspirin or ibuprofen, ice and Tylenol only for pain, and no walking for three days, except for walking from the couch or bed to the bathroom. However, the doctor said he wanted me to move my knees in a bicycle motion, while sitting, and rub the knees about every hour. 

Additionally, he gave me a large vial of my "leftover poor platelets." 

"Put it on your face," said the nurse. "It's like an instant facelift!" (Side note: it was! I put it on at night before bed, and it tightened up my entire face. In the morning my face felt soft and smooth)! 

After three days, I could resume normal daily activity, but no lower body workouts, fitness walking, or jogging for six weeks. 

I went for my first jog at eight weeks, and have since been running, squatting, lunging, and jumping. Definitely not with the same intensity I had when I was 20, or even 30, but enough to get in a good sweat sash for me! 

Recovering at home with my boys, one day post injections.
I was a little reluctant to write this blog post because PRP isn’t covered by health insurance. But the reason I’m sharing it anyways is because I truly believe this is how we make change. In the U.S., we provide “sick care,” not “health care.” If we’re loud enough, if we demand better options and treatment, if we’re informed enough, we’ll make changes to the health care system.

With that said, nothing I've written is meant to replace the advice of care of your doctor. I’m simply sharing my experience, my opinions, and the treatment I am undergoing to show that there are alternative options. I urge you to do your own research, and listen to your own instincts.

I share this story to show that not all healing has to come in the form of medicine. We don’t always have to get a prescription. There are many things our bodies can do naturally. They are incredible vessels! I hope you found this info helpful! Leave me a note below with your thoughts. I love hearing from you!

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