Stem cell therapy renews painful knees

Stem cell therapy gave Pam Hayes relief from pain in her knees that she had suffered practically her entire life. She can get out of bed, out of a chair, and move around much better now.

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Pam Hayes had suffered with bad knees practically her entire life. At just the tender age of 3, she underwent her first knee surgery to repair torn cartilage. By fifth grade, she’d been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Then in 2011, while in her early 40s, she had surgery for another tear with free-floating tissue that had torn away from the joint.
“It had gotten to the point where my knees were just completely worn out,” Hayes says. “They told me I was too young to be a candidate for knee replacement surgery because the new knees would wear out before the end of my life and I would have to get them replaced again.”
But Hayes also knew that she was too young to be in so much pain and feeling bad all the time. “I couldn’t walk long periods. I couldn’t sit long periods because when I went to get up, my knees felt like they were going to buckle. I couldn’t do stairs,” Hayes recalls. “But the true aching would be at night. It was like having a constant toothache, but in your knees. I’d wake up in the morning and just … well, my knees were just bad.”

Dr. Jamie Walraven

A friend works at the Stem Center of Georgia at Ageless Wellness Center in Peachtree City, where Dr. Jamie Walraven specializes in treating degenerative, inflammatory and, autoimmune diseases without the use of surgery or pharmaceuticals. She thought Hayes was a good candidate for stem cell therapy on her knees.

“I was willing to give anything a shot, and so I did,” she admits. The two-hour drive from her home in Augusta to Ageless Wellness in Peachtree City ended up being well worth the trip.

“Everybody at Ageless Wellness is amazing,’ Hayes says. “You can tell as soon as you walk in the door that they are both compassionate as well as very passionate about what they do.”

As Hayes explains, the stem cell therapy involved a mini-liposuction in which a syringe of fat was taken from her belly, which then gets spun down and processed into concentrated stem cells.

“They even let me look at my stem cells through a microscope, which was pretty neat,” she laughs.

Hayes then received injections of her own stem cells into both knees. She also received an infusion of stem cells through an IV that showered her whole body. Hayes knew ahead of time that the results are not instantaneous. It takes several months for the regeneration of new cartilage. But within a year, she absolutely knew that her knees were getting better. “Before the stem cell therapy, I felt like an old lady,” Hayes says. “The toilets in my home were so low that I felt like I needed a booster seat because my knees were so bad. I couldn’t go to a restaurant and sit for long periods of time, or go to a bar and have a cocktail and get down off the barstool.

“But those things changed. I started to see that my knees were getting better. In the morning I would wake up, put my feet on the floor and be ready to get my day started, whereas before I could barely get out of bed. As art director for an Augusta-area marketing agency, Hayes says she spends hours sitting in front of a computer.

“It used to be that I’d try to get up to go the restroom or get an apple or go out to lunch and literally have to lean on a table for a few minutes to let my knees adjust to having weight put on them. Now I just get up and go,” Hayes says. “I don’t exercise nearly as much as I should, but I do feel I’m able to do treadmills and to make full circles on bike pedals, so yes, the stem cell therapy has definitely benefited me.”

Hayes says she’s not at 100 percent yet, “but compared to where I was I feel like I’m at 95.5.”

“If I could get one more treatment, it would be the equivalent of having brand new knees,’ she says. “I’ve absolutely considered doing it a second time.” That confidence has made Hayes an advocate for others considering stem cell therapy.

“I think some people hear the name of the procedure and immediately think, oh my gosh this is super complicated or it’s going to be painful or it’s going to take a lot of time to recover from,” she says. “But for such a simple, seamless and almost painless procedure, it has tremendous benefits.”

“With Pam, her rheumatoid arthritis was in remission, so her treatment helped the damage that was done. For people in active rheumatoid arthritis, our focus would be not only in managing the joint, but also the autoimmune process,” said Dr. Jamie Walraven, medical director at Ageless Wellness.

For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Jamie Walraven, call 678-364-8414 or visit agelesswellnessptc.com