How Stem Cell Therapy Helped Chris Regain a Quality of Life without Pain Killers

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The guy on water skis has a story to tell. He glides through the water with grace and ease now, but just a few months ago he wondered if he’d ever be able to move again without pain. And after nearly 20 years as a firefighter, Chris McCorkle was no stranger to pain. But 2014 was a year of agony for the 44-year-old Scottsdale entrepreneur.

“The worst part was getting up in the morning,” McCorkle said. “It was painful to move. My back was so tight.”

McCorkle has vigorously pursued a host of outdoor sports and activities most of his life, including mountain biking and tennis in addition to waterskiing. The back pain reached a level of concern two years ago, but not exactly overnight. He did have nine orthopedic operations over the past decade. The accumulation of injuries and procedures reached a painful peak in 2014. Any movement brought pain. “I had to take anti-inflammatories just to do bare necessities,” McCorkle said, “including taking my two-year-old son to school or working on the computer.”

The heightened pain caused the parade of visits to doctors’ offices to continue. One doctor diagnosed McCorkle’s problem as arthritis. Another told him he needed an ablation, a procedure to burn a nerve ending in hopes of stopping the pain, but it didn’t seem like the ultimate answer.

Through the pain, McCorkle didn’t exactly slow down. He continued his lifestyle, playing tennis, hiking, mountain biking. He just swallowed more painkillers such as Ibuprofen. He never lost his sense of freedom. It just came with a price.

“I’d wake up in the morning, brush my teeth, take Celebrex, and go on,” McCorkle said.

Painkillers don’t eliminate the source of pain. Neither did the physical therapy McCorkle tried last summer. They made it possible for entrepreneurial McCorkle to sit at a computer and run his company that makes brackets to hold lights and cameras on helmets for firefighters and other safety/response personnel.

“But that wasn’t enough,” he added. “I wanted more out of life.”

McCorkle talked to a friend who was a patient of Southwest Spine & Sports. After visiting our Scottsdale office, McCorkle learned of Stem Cell therapy, a nonsurgical regenerative treatment. McCorkle spoke with a neurosurgeon-friend on the East Coast who told him Stem Cell therapy is the future of injury treatment.

So Thanksgiving 2014 McCorkle took the medical advice and decided to go ahead with Southwest Spine & Sports and their Stem Cell treatment. After a week of complete rest as prescribed by Dr. Michael Wolff, McCorkle began to return to his very active lifestyle. In December, he even rode bicycles around his neighborhood with his son. In January, he got back on his water skis.

His wife noticed he no longer went through a mental calculation of whether a particular movement would be worth the pain it brought. “I used to think about how bad something would hurt tonight, tomorrow, or the next day before doing it,” he said. Now McCorkle does anything he did before without paying for it. “The Stem Cell treatment was life-changing for me.”


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