New Procedure May Help Cure Chronic Pain
By Holly Wayment
What seems like science fiction is now medical science, and it’s helping some San Antonians recover from chronic pain without the need for powerful opioid medications. Lucy (Luz) E. Rodriguez is a San Antonio mother and wife with a career devoted to helping San Antonio’s elderly. She walked into Dr. Stephen W. Dinger’s clinic suffering from severe, continual knee pain. Dr. Dinger is practicing cutting-edge medicine in the Alamo City. She knew this and that is what led her to make an appointment with him.
Her pain was so bad that she was unable to kneel, and Rodriguez needed to be able to kneel in order to work and help elderly people. Dr. Dinger performed regenerative medicine, taking Rodriguez’s own blood cells from her arm, spinning them in a device, and then reinjecting those cells into the damaged tissue to restore normal function. The process is relatively painless and takes minutes to complete.
Rodriguez explains “Then, everything changed. I knelt down and thought, wow, I’m able to do it!,” I can do just about anything now. I can walk as long as I want. and I can dance.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, regenerative medicine is the “process of creating a living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function due to age, disease, damage or congenital (inherited) defects.”
“Regenerative medicine is where we are headed in medicine, “says Dr. Dinger. “Now we’ve gone from trying to help support the situation or disease to making it better and reversing the damage.”
He says he likes the challenge of treating pain. “It’s a condition where most of the time, you are the last stop for patients,” Dr. Dinger explains. “For some people, it’s almost immediate improvement.”
Tiger Woods may be the most high-profile regenerative medicine patient, Dr. Dinger explains, but the procedure can help a wide array of people with different pain problems such as arthritis.
“It’s your body’s own healing response right where you need it, “ Dr. Dinger says. “So, if we can concentrate on your body’s healing response, who’s better to heal than you.?”
“It’s your body’s own healing response to right where you need it,” Dr. Dinger says. “So, if we can concentrate on your body’s healing response, who’s better to heal than you?”
Regenerative medicine could be for anyone who has chronic arthritis, tendonitis, and back pain and works best for people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, or people such as Rodriguez.
Born in the city of Juarez, Mexico, Rodriguez and her husband of 44 years, Roger, have danced through many cities as a military family.
“I married a military guy and he took me around the world,” she says. The couple has two daughters: Veronica, 42 and Laura Beth, 36. Rodriguez worked in nursing homes and hospitals and felt like something was lacking for service to the elderly.
“Nobody could give them what I thought they should have at the end of life.” So, she started her own in-house nursing home, where she could provide nurture, kindness and respect to the senior citizens around the clock. She even provided hair styling, make-up as needed for the women, and regular, home-cooked meals.
“When you take care of the elderly, you forget about yourself,” she says. Her job also involved a lot of lifting, and that is why, many years later when she is about to retire, she had chronic injuries.
“I worried that I would be sitting down for most of my older life.”
Targeted cell therapy is currently not covered by insurance, but Dr. Dinger hopes that in a year or two that will change.
“This has made all the difference for me, “ she says while holding her husband’s hand.
Dr. Dinger, who is a father of three children, a ten-year-old son Nathan, and twin twelve-year-old daughters MyKenna and Makalyn, completed his undergraduate degree at Syracuse and then medical school in New York. His residency brought him to San Antonio. His mother, who worked in a medical clinic, and also underwent a larger abdominal surgery when he was a child, inspired him to become a doctor. He is an athlete and recently completed his first Ironman triathlon. He has participated in sports ever since he can remember. Dr. Dinger is passionate about customer experience and treating patients in a kind and compassionate environment.
He also emphasizes that patients need not depend on opioids. “We are trying to change the narrative on pain management. Opioids are not a long-term treatment. We need to focus on the source; the root cause of the pain.”
Rodriguez is getting ready to retire, where she and her husband will take their first retirement trip to visit a friend in Illinois. She feels great, is excited about retirement, and does not need opioid medication.
“I tell everyone about it! I can enjoy the things we want to do. It was a wonderful experience,” she says. “Dr. Dinger gives you the time and doesn’t rush. He is a doctor that cares for you and wants to make things better for you. He does not just give you medication because he wants you to live a normal life.”
Dr. Dinger is the founder of Advanced Pain Management and Rehab, with clinics in Stone Oak 1585 Sigma Rd. Ste 104, Schertz 5000 Schertz Pkwy Ste. 400, Boerne 110 East Bandera Rd., and Bulverde 32685 Hwy 281 N #100. To book an appointment, call 210-495-7246 or go to their website: backpainsa.com