Jumping Away from Arthritis By Bennett Buchsieb
o be able to step on the track at a national or global level and do what one loves is impressive. But for me, a 40-year-old who recently overcame debilitating arthritis in my ankles, it was unfathomable. In July 2014, I placed fourth in long jump for my age group at the US Masters National Track and Field Championships. This August, I will compete at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Lyon, France. I almost didn’t get to where I am. Flash back to 2008. Oh, the pain! What was I doing walking into my doctor’s office in Scottsdale, Arizona with two ankles at Stage IV osteoarthritis? But it wasn’t just my ankles; other joints were breaking down, and I was on target to be in a wheelchair by age 50. Being constantly anxious about your health is never a good thing; Mixed in 74 • au sti nf Itm agazi ne. c o m • 01.2 015
with apathy from some in the medical profession, it can spell disaster. I was a high school and college track athlete, albeit one who was very prone to ankle sprains. I had many throughout my athletic career and started seeing doctors at the young age of 27—determined to understand the persistent pain. For more than a decade, I entered medical offices, hoping I would leave with a solution to my soreness. The prognosis that came back was simple: I would inevitably have to undergo joint replacement. Cartilage erosion had moved my bones painfully close to one another. My body was failing me, and no one had an answer as to why. I endured surgery to remove bone spurs and was soon on dangerous levels of pain killers. “Deal with it until you can get a joint replacement later in life,” the doctors said. Scared to death of this prognosis, I
started to shy away from all medical offices. And my ankles kept deteriorating. Stage IV osteoarthritis is the worst or “old age” phase of arthritis. It’s an intense chronic pain felt with every step. Most daily activities become limited or nonexistent. The MRI taken on my left ankle told the whole story: There was complete cartilage loss and dead bone, as well as large cysts (holes) and spurs (projections). In my 20s and 30s, I was told once cartilage is lost, you can’t heal or restore it. In defiance, I asked myself: if we can heal bone, ligaments, tendons and muscle, why can’t we heal cartilage? Years of research and many dead ends later, I eventually found a light at the end of the tunnel with the discovery of prolotherapy. Prolotherapy stands for proliferation therapy. In very simple terms, it involves injecting an irritant, such as dextrose, into a wounded area that normally will
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