A Queenstown doctor has started a business treating people with chronic joint injuries by using their own blood placelets.
Lakes District Hospital doc Morne Pienaar has set up Queenstown Regenerative Medicine, which he operates on his days off.
Pienaar says the treatment is “cutting edge” in New Zealand but became known last year when golfing great Tiger Woods admitted using it to heal his mangled knees.
“I’ve met with regenerative specialists in America and Australia who’ve been doing it for months and years.”
Pienaar – a triathlete/multisporter who’s used the new therapy to treat his own knee – says it’s “extraordinarily safe”.
“You almost think it’s way too good to be true.”
Pienaar says the therapy heals ligaments and tendons naturally.
His website states: “Currently, medical treatment for joint pain and injury consists on one end of taking medicines for pain or on the other end, opting for surgery to resolve the problem.
“However, many patients do not want to take medicines for the rest of their life and many are not candidates for surgery or are not interested in having the surgery with all of the risk involved.
“This has created a large gap in treatment.”
Pienaar says his treatment involves taking blood from a patient, which is then spun round in a centrifuge to produce placelet-rich plasma.
That’s then injected into the damaged area, causing mild inflammation that triggers the healing process.
Pienaar says it’s a slow process – significant improvement can take four to six weeks and a patient may need to be re-injected.
“You’re basically building up your joint again, which is amazing.”
Pienaar says he recently checked patients he’d treated six weeks earlier for elbow, shoulder and Achilles injuries and all but one had “a really good response”.
Pienaar operates in tandem with his partner Jodi Currie, a physiotherapist who helps assess patients beforehand and assists them afterwards with rehabilitation.
Treatment, depending on how complicated it is, ranges in cost from about $500 to $800.