Millions of Americans suffer each day with pain from arthritis or injury to the back, neck and joints. Many choose to live with what can be debilitating pain, unable to perform household chores or even work, rather than turn to surgery to relieve their pain.
There is hope for those looking to prevent surgery and even for those in which surgery has failed to relieve pain, says Dr. George Friedhoff, St. Vincent Charity Sports Medicine Specialist. Innovative, nonsurgical treatments, which Dr. Friedhoff performs at the St. Vincent Charity Medical Campus in Independence, are proving effective to relieve chronic neck, back and joint pain.
Stem cell and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy are both regenerative treatments
that encourage the body to use its natural abilities to heal injuries and other types of tissue damage or inflammation, such as that caused by arthritis, overuse and tendonitis.
PRP utilizes the liquid portion of the blood, or plasma, which includes a higher concentration of platelets. Not only do platelets enable blood to clot, they also contain growth and healing factors that initiate repair of damaged joint or soft tissue.
For treatment, Dr. Friedhoff utilizes a patient’s own blood, drawn in his office, and then spun in a centrifuge to separate out the platelets. The average percentage of platelets found in blood is approximately 6 percent, while the PRP concentration is 90 percent higher. The platelets are then injected directly into the affected joint or tissue.
“Because PRP supports tissues that are slow to heal, it is an ideal choice for tendons, ligaments and meniscus that have poor blood supply,” said Dr. Friedhoff, a resident of Brecksville.
When more conservative treatments, such as rest, behavior modification, medication and even PRP, do not result in adequate pain relief, Dr. Friedhoff said he often turns to stem cell therapy. Specially trained in stem cell treatment, Dr. Friedhoff utilizes stem cells harvested from a patient’s own body and then utilizes ultrasound to carefully inject the material into the damaged joint or tissue. Stem cells have been proven to activate healing in joints, tendons and injured tissue.
“The ability to repair is so strong, stem cells can help heal an arthritic joint and even help to regrow cartilage in some patients,” Dr. Friedhoff said. “In many cases, the treatment relieves the pain enough to allow patients to return to physical therapy to regain mobility and function.”
Dr. Friedhoff is one of a select group of physicians across the country providing the Coolief Radiofrequency Ablation, which offers patients a non-surgical, non-narcotic alternative to relieve chronic joint, back and neck pain. This minimally invasive, outpatient procedure uses cooled radiofrequency energy to safely target sensory nerves causing chronic joint, back or neck pain.
“While the procedure does not heal a damaged joint, it prevents the sensory nerve from sending pain signals to the brain,” Dr. Friedhoff said. “With a trial utilizing lidocaine before the actual procedure, we know immediately if an ablation will work for an individual patient.”
Dr. Friedhoff said the procedure has been particularly effective in treating back and knee pain, with some patients getting up to two years of relief.
Fellowship-trained in sports medicine, Dr. Friedhoff specializes in physical therapy techniques to help athletes, weekend warriors and those suffering from chronic pain to maintain function and return to an active lifestyle.
“Regular, moderate exercise is proven to help reduce pain and improve function for many, particularly those suffering from osteoarthritis,” Dr. Friedhoff said. “Exercise and stretching can help reduce joint stiffness and ward off progression of the disease.”
Due to his expertise, he works with patients in the office to develop and teach effective stretching and strengthening exercises, often enabling patients to avoid numerous trips to a physical therapist. He ensures regular telehealth or phone appointments to carefully monitor and assess a patient’s progress throughout treatment.
Water therapy is ideal for those suffering from joint pain because buoyancy makes moving in the water easier on the joints, allowing for movement that would be painful on land. For Brecksville residents with access to the recreation center, Dr. Friedhoff provides instruction on hydrotherapy and can write prescriptions for those who might benefit from self-guided aqua therapy at the city’s therapy pool.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Friedhoff at St. Vincent Charity’s office in Independence, please contact 216-676-1234. If you are experiencing back, neck or joint related issues, the Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center can help. We offer same-day appointments today at: 216-861-6200, option 5. Your health is our priority.
Opinions and claims expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of ScripType Publishing.