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Published on July 16, 2019

Randy Derheim playing golf

Regenerative Medicine Saves a Full Season of Golf

Life is all about choices, risks and rewards. Randy Derheim was facing a tough one, weighing the pros and cons about the arthritis pain in his shoulder.

He could go all-in, get a full shoulder replacement through orthopedic surgery and come out on the other side with less pain. Or Derheim could continue to muscle through the pain and make do.

“I knew if I had the surgery, I’d be out of commission for a good long time, and would likely not golf a stroke all summer long,” said Derheim. “The pain was getting worse and it interfered with so many little things, like driving and getting dressed.”

That’s when a middle path appeared for him: Regenerative medicine, using the body’s natural healing system to promote soft cartilage growth. By working with a doctor who could gather concentrated cells from his body, Derheim could avoid the surgery as well as get relief.

“Randy’s arthritis was more severe, but he still seemed like a good candidate for this therapy,” said Jonathan Buchanan, MD, with Avera Orthopedics – Sioux Falls. “The process is straightforward, in that we take just the platelets in blood and then concentrate them. We can then reintroduce them to the body to help speed joint healing.”

Considering he’d have a few weeks of treatment and injection time, versus months of post-operative recovery, Derheim made his choice and so far, it’s worked great.

“I don’t have the pain I once did, and so many parts of my life, from sleep to work to just day-to-day activities, are easier for me,” he said. “The injections do create some pain and inflammation, but compared to the alternatives, the decision I made going with Dr. Buchanan on this approach was the right decision.”

Guiding a choice of this sort requires facts – and a firm focus on what this therapy is and is not.

“Even with Randy’s more intense arthritis, the therapy has worked, but it’ll take time and ongoing work to keep the gains in quality of life he has made in place,” said Buchanan. “He has not had a surgical shoulder joint replacement, and he realizes that – this approach can help but it isn’t the fountain of youth.”

The straightforward nature of his doctor’s guidance helped, Derheim said.

“It was an option, one that might not have worked,” he said. “But having that option to try this was important to me, and it has been a success so far, and it should continue as I keep going with physical therapy. Everything in life has its advantages and disadvantages, but I’m sure glad I learned about this approach. When you’re happier and have less pain – it’s life-changing.”

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