Injury Recovery in CrossFit Athlete: Finding Relief in Stem Cells and PRP

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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CrossFit Pro Matt Chan from Doug Orchard on Vimeo.

Multiple meniscus tears, herniated discs, sciatica in the leg and ankle, shoulder injuries—Matt Chan has run the gamut when it comes to fitness-related injuries. However, as a professional and competitive CrossFit athlete, long recovery times and the inability to return to full function, common with traditional surgeries and treatments, wasn’t an option for him. He needed an CrossFit injury recovery that would give him a competitive edge. Enter Regenexx and advanced interventional orthopedics…

CrossFit Athlete, Competitor, and Professional Trainer

Matt is a seminar staff trainer for CrossFit, Inc. and has participated in six CrossFit games, taking second place (out of 175,000 participants) in the 2012 games. He spends a big part of his life training (for both professional and competitive purposes) in his 1,000-square-foot gym located inside his garage on his property in Colorado. He had the following to say about CrossFit prior to his injuries:

“I found that not only did it make me feel good…but also my athletic prowess was unmatched by anything I’ve ever done before. I saw what it did for my life…I felt physically more prepared for any and all activities somebody could throw at me. I looked at life like a challenge; you know, what should I get involved in next?”

Injuries Happen in Fitness

As with any highly competitive and intense fitness routine, injuries are likely to happen, and Matt has had a lot due to massive amounts of stress and fatigue on his body.

In 2012, after experiencing incredible knee pain that hurt when he did almost anything, he had an MRI done on his left knee. The diagnosis? Multiple microscopic tears in his meniscus. While meniscus tears can be a normal part of aging, this wasn’t the case for Matt. His were fitness injuries, and he knew he needed some sort of nonsurgical intervention to help him return to top form:

“It’s important for me to keep all of my body’s materials, I don’t want to cut things. I don’t want to clip things…clipping my meniscus was a bad option for me because it was always going to limit my performance in the long run.”

So Matt needed a CrossFit recovery path that would allow him to outperform his competitors, who often opt for surgery and end up out for the season. He needed something that allowed him to keep training hard while was treated.

Meniscus Treatments Without Surgery

Matt’s physical therapist recommended Regenexx where he discovered that he was a candidate for stem cell treatments that could treat his meniscus tears, and, most importantly to Matt, he would be able to keep everything that his body naturally had. Nothing clipped, nothing removed, and in Matt’s profession, this was imperative.

Matt received the patented stem cell injections, using his own stem cells, to both of his knees, followed by PRP injections. He states in the video that after two months, his knees “felt like they were brand new again.”

Herniated Disc Treatment Without Surgery

In 2014, Matt then herniated three discs in his back and had sciatica in his left leg that ran all the way down to his ankle. He again sought out Regenexx, and this time he received our fourth generation platelet lysate injections in his back. Within a month his symptoms were gone, making him feel like a whole athlete again, and just a month following his treatments he demonstrated a 300-pound power clean and jerk (see video above):

“I had my last treatment with Regenexx on January 20 and today’s February 24…just knowing that I haven’t lost any ground with this stuff—you know, a 300-pound power clean and jerk—it’s really reassuring that I can go get treated, do a bit of rehab, and not lose much fitness.”

Matt’s statement that he hadn’t lost any ground with a Regenexx procedure is key. He was in the midst of training and back surgery was out of the question. Even a stem cell injection in his disc would have caused him to loose ground on his quest for ultra-elite fitness. So our doctors decided that the most minimally invasive thing we do (inject our advanced 4th generation platelet lysate around his irritated nerves) was the way to go. This caused very little soreness and allowed him to be in the gym the next day. So if you wonder why Regenexx treats so many elite athletes, this is a great example of how our broad spectrum of regenerative treatments allows us chose a therapy that best fits their rigorous training schedule. That just doesn’t happen at one size fits all, magic stem cell clinics.

The upshot? We may not all be competitive and professional CrossFit trainers, but the fact that stem cells have such a powerful impact in a full-time fitness enthusiast speaks to the potential of stem cell treatments. In Matt’s case, his recovery time was minimal, he was able to maintain his elite fitness and activity level, and he was able to accomplish it all without surgery!

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14 thoughts on “Injury Recovery in CrossFit Athlete: Finding Relief in Stem Cells and PRP

  1. Celeste Spoon

    I feel like I have hope after reading this story. It’s been three weeks since I had the stem cells done in my back.Some days the pain is unbearable and some days it’s not so bad.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Celeste,
      I know Matt would be happy to hear that his story gave you hope! Listen to your body, avoid NSAIDS, and hang in there, it gets better…

  2. Dennis

    An impressive, inspiring story, especially to aging, non-professional, but still competitive athletes like myself who have also suffered injuries. I read that he had a bad bike riding accident so I hope he’s recovered from that as well. How he is doing now?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Dennis,
      He’s doing great! The video was filmed in February, and his mountain biking injury was back in July of 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVrgSkW6eMQ. He’s one resilient guy!

  3. Wilma Jones

    This blog post is an inspiring endorsement for Regenexx treatments, but not for CrossFit.

    CrossFit is probably creating many new Regenexx customers. Injury City — that’s CrossFit’s reputation.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Wilma,
      Thanks, Matt is an inspiring, incredibly resilient person who’s worse injury interestingly came from a leisurely mountain bike ride! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVrgSkW6eMQ CrossFit obviously does put intense physical demands on the body and takes incredible determination and discipline. Though being in that type of physical shape is often protective, we’re very thankful to have the tools to fix injuries non-surgically for Matt and others when they do occur!

  4. Celeste Spoon

    I was surprised and pleased to get an answer. I am not sure if I should talk to my orthopaedic doctor or just wait a few weeks more to see if I can get any relief. Thank you so much. Any idea how long it usual takes before I should get relief

    1. Regenexx Team

      Celeste,
      Was this a Regenexx treatment, or one done by your Orthopedic Dr.?

  5. Anne

    I have a herniated disc (L5/S1) which has caused much pain and is quite an annoyance! I’m only 48 and I’m very active so I’m looking forward to my regenexx procedure at the end of the month. I will be having the playlet lysate.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Anne,
      That’s exciting news! Please check back in a month or two after the procedure and let us know how you’re doing…

  6. Rachelle

    I would like to hear from anyone in the neck area. I have headaches, vertigo some days and had neck problems for over 27 years. My job is physical and don’t want surgery. Go to a chiropractor and sometimes massage , can this procedure really work and how long will I need time off?

  7. Helen

    I had Lipogems cell stem Treatment back in August 2015 for damaged tibia and really stretched ligaments in my ankle. I am a former Marathon runner…feeling better and started to run again, but 3 months ago I was diagnosed with Neuroma in my foot and had a steroid shot. My ankle seems OK, but be careful with any steroids.

  8. Fatema Zahra Samira Belyazid

    Why does the article say “Even a stem cell injection in his disc would have caused him to loose ground on his quest for ultra-elite fitness. ” Would an intradiscal injection have weakened or worsened is back ?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Fatema,
      There is a very small percentage of disc issues which reuire and benefit from injecting stem cells into the disc itself. Matt Chan did not have one of those issues. Please see: https://regenexx.com/blog/stem-cell-disc-injection/

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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