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As a body builder, Harold Chery was a runner up for Mr. USA; but years of heavy lifting eventually got him down. His knees took a beating.

“I used to squat over 800 pounds,” says Chery.”

A car accident was the final straw. Harold’s knees were shot. Now a sports trainer, his livelihood was on the line.

“At the end of the day it was definitely very hard for me to walk,” says Chery.

Traditional treatments for severe arthritis include anti-inflammatories, pain meds, injection therapy, physical therapy and many times, a knee replacement. But a growing number of people are seeking alternatives, hoping to hold off surgery.

“We’re not asking people to live in pain. If we can get them out of pain without surgery, that’s what we try to do,” says Dr. Ron Gardner, who is an orthopedic surgeon on medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

From anti-inflammatory diets to regenerative medicine, using the body’s own tissue to promote healing, it’s something Harold’s orthopedic surgeon dr. Ron Gardner works towards.

“We have a few patients in this practice who we’ve been treating as longs as fourteen years who still have not had joint replacement surgery. That’s almost a life cycle of a joint replacement,” says Dr. Gardner.

“I told him I would try anything but surgery, as long as it’s going to work,” says Chery.

Harold’s treatment involved removing a small amount of his own stem cells, extracted from both bone marrow and fat. Refined and re-injected directly into the damaged area.

“If you put them together into a joint you get a very high quality stem cell treatment and you can truly help people to heal a majority of their arthritis that’s causing their pain,” says Dr. Gardner.

Within a matter of weeks, Harold took years off his knees and added weight to his workout.

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