In January of 2016, I was doing some routine maintenance on one of my vehicles at home—something I have done for the past 30 years. By an odd chain of events, the support ramps that were holding the vehicle up failed and the car fell on me. Thankfully, the tires were still on the car. I was turned to my right side at the time, so the car fell on my left shoulder and crushed me to the driveway. I thought for sure that I had broken my sternum, right collarbone and right shoulder. The pain was more than I have ever experienced. Miraculously, the x-rays showed no broken bones. It was only when trying to put my sweatshirt on again to be released from the hospital that something “popped”. The pain was excruciating and I almost passed out.
As the days progressed, ice and pain medication were my friends. A large lump appeared where my right collarbone met with my sternum. The instability of that joint was nauseating. I could not lay on my right side. I could not hold anything even slightly weight-bearing with my right arm extended. The injured joint protruded inwardly, putting pressure on my esophagus so that it felt like something was continually stuck in my throat. If I bent over to reach for something or tie my shoes, it felt like I was literally choking myself.
Once the swelling and pain subsided (March 2016), I went to my orthopedic surgeon who had previous performed surgery on my right shoulder (rotator cuff, labrum) and left knee (medial meniscus tear) very successfully. He said that the ligaments in my right sternoclavicular joint were stretched. He said he could do surgery to tighten things up, but that I would never be 100% and the joint would eventually become arthritic. I looked into the different types of surgeries that could be done for the sternoclavicular joint, but nothing was appealing or showed results of full recovery.
In the summer of 2016, a friend of mine from church was asking me how my injury was doing. I told him that it was very slow-going and the joint was still very unstable. He mentioned to me a non-surgical treatment that a mutual friend had to help him with some terrible back pain that he had been experiencing from a car accident. The treatment was called prolotherapy and that, after treatment, he was a new man.
I immediately began to research this non-surgical treatment that I had never heard of before. I read article after article and testimony after testimony and watched several videos about this amazing treatment. I was convinced that this was the treatment that I needed and that I was an excellent candidate for it. It was several months before I found Virginia Spine Institute and scheduled an appointment. The staff at Virginia Spine Institute were excellent! I received great care. Dr. Bharara and his staff took the time to listen to the story of my accident, understand my injury and how it was affecting my body and my daily life physically, mentally and emotionally.
After my first treatment, I experienced amazing results.
After a few weeks, I could literally feel the ligaments contracting with a tightening sensation and the joint becoming more stable as the treatment progressed through the natural healing process of my body. After a few more weeks, I no longer felt the pressure in my esophagus or felt like I was choking myself by reaching over and down. By the first follow-up appointment, I was very encouraged. I was excited to tell Dr. Bharara the improvement I had experienced. I was already telling other people with similar joint injuries that they had to look into prolotherapy. I felt like the joint was about 90% healed. Dr. Bharara advised, and I agreed, that another treatment should be given to heal the joint further.
At the time of this writing, it’s been almost five months since my second treatment. My sternoclavicular joint feels very stable. After a few weeks after the second treatment, I again remember a distinct day when I could feel the ligaments contracting and pulling my collarbone in more securely. There was a time when I could physically make my collarbone move, even slightly, by pushing on it. I can no longer do that. After the first treatment and the improvement made, I still didn’t feel confident exercising as I had previous to my injury. I didn’t feel comfortable even doing any push-ups. After this second treatment, however; and even though I haven’t gone for my follow-up, the joint feels so stable and strong that I have the confidence to resume exercising. I am doing push-ups, chin-ups and dumbbell weight training.
I am so excited about the results of the prolotherapy treatment! I have been involved in athletics my whole life and was still playing softball, basketball and soccer up until the injury. I have five very athletic children as well and could no longer play or practice with them after the injury. I now feel confident that I can resume doing that. And that brings a lump in the throat and a tear to very involved dad’s eye that I can resume that.
I can’t thank Dr. Bharara and Virginia Spine Institute enough for this invaluable treatment that they perform. I will forever be a promoter and advocate for this amazing non-surgical treatment.
Thank you to my team!
- Dr. Bharara - Pain Management Specialist