Some people really are like superheroes in that they’re fearless and have mastered an extreme sport that leaves us mortals in awe. So when I first saw Dimitri’s kiteboarding video, I chuckled at his amazing feats and just said, “Wow!”. That was even more satisfying because I knew that Dimitri was facing arthroscopic knee surgery for a meniscus tear and said “No” to surgery and “Yes” to a precise knee meniscus stem cell injection of his own stem cells.
Dimitri’s Diagnoses: Knee Arthritis, Meniscus Tears, and a Baker’s Cyst
After years of damage being done to Dimitri’s body due to his extremely active lifestyle and competitive kiteboarding, an MRI found advanced knee arthritis and meniscus tears. The meniscus is located in the knee, and acting as a shock absorber, it helps protect the cartilage. Normal wear-and tear with aging or injury can cause meniscus tears. The arthritis and tears had also caused synovial fluid to leak out of the joint, creating a Baker’s cyst, a fluid-filled lump, behind his knee. The cyst was irritating nerves and muscles, and all of this together was causing pain.
Dimitri wasn’t sure what to do, but he knew there was one thing he didn’t want—surgery! He began looking for treatment options that didn’t require surgery or drugs.
Why Not Surgery?
Dimitri’s answer to this was pretty straightforward: “I don’t like people going into my body…drilling and putting in plates and cutting things out…Who likes that?” Let’s take a look at what he might have had to endure with surgery.
First, meniscus surgery is bad news! I’ve shared before how the majority (greater than 90% in fact) of meniscus repairs aren’t really “repairs,” so to speak, but are actually excisions in which the torn parts of the structure are cut out. And as I’ve mentioned before there are no spare parts in the knee; the meniscus is there for a purpose. We also know that patients who undergo America’s most common orthopedic surgery, meniscus surgery, don’t fare any better than patient’s who just undergo physical therapy. In addition, removing part of the meniscus, the shock absorber in the knee, increases the forces on the cartilage and can either lead to an early onset of arthritis or a faster advance of existing arthritis and even an increased risk of knee replacement. Surgery for a torn meniscus, in most cases, is just unnecessary as the field of interventional orthopedics offers advanced biologics options (e.g., platelets, stem cells, etc.) as Dimitri discovered.
Knee replacement, which treats what is believed to be arthritis pain due to the mechanics of the knee as cartilage breaks down, is often ineffective for pain. It’s treating the wrong problem. Yet, by the time knee arthritis becomes advanced, many doctors have already had conversations with patients regarding the potential for a future knee replacement. While it may seem like the last resort for advanced arthritis, for guys like Dimitri, knee replacement is usually a bad idea. In addition, recent research shows that for more active people with knee pain, knee replacement isn’t that effective.
While discussing his knee issues with a friend, Dimitri learned about the possibility of stem cells and began to research. He found Dr. Leiber, one of our Regenexx Network doctors, and a few months ago, he underwent a same-day knee meniscus stem cell treatment on his knee, using his own bone-marrow derived stem cells. He followed this up with some physical therapy and was quickly back to competing.
Knee Meniscus Stem Cell Update: Watch the Video!
There is no other way to fully explain this 48-year-old legendary kiteboarder’s outcome but to tell you to watch the jaw-dropping video above! This “old-school guy,” as he calls himself, is still accomplishing feats only a rare few could achieve at half his age.
The upshot? Some people really are superheroes and I’d put Dimitri in that category. Both because of what he can do and also because he trusted the innate ability of his own body to heal and Dr. Leiber’s advanced injection skills in a knee meniscus stem cell procedure over traditional meniscus surgery. Here’s to hoping that Dimitri can still do super human stuff for many years to come!