When the game is over but pain is left

Some men may brag about their bad knee from football like it is a badge of honor. The problem is that over time these unhealed injuries get worse and may even become disabling.

by Dr. Paul Stallone — 

For most fans, football is much more than a game. It may remind them of the quality time they spent with their own fathers and teammates, or it may have been the first time they were part of a team and felt pride in something bigger than themselves. Most men remember the highs and lows of their football days, and they would not trade those memories for anything. The first touchdown a man scores is something dreams are made of.

Football can bring many emotions to the surface. Pride, frustration, anger, happiness and many other feelings are all part of the game. However, some men who played the sport may have a lingering physical feeling deeply tied in with the time they played the game.

This feeling is neither wanted, nor goes away by itself. Physical pain can be something that is felt long after the game is over. The reason some injuries continue to produce pain years later is because the injury was sustained in an area where healing is very limited. It is as if the damage was never corrected.

Some men may brag about their bad knee from football like it is a badge of honor. The problem is that over time these unhealed injuries get worse and may even become disabling. A little pain in your 30s can lead to major intolerable pain in your 60s. Some men have a tough-it-out attitude. This outlook may work for the present, but they do not consider the future and the damage done by ignoring or covering up the problem. Generally pain does not become disabling or chronic overnight — it takes years.

During those early years, reaching for over-the-counter pain relievers addressed the immediate pain but did nothing to solve the problem. Eventually the pain became so extreme that other methods of pain relief had to be explored. Aggressive measures, such as dangerous narcotics and risky surgery, are usually the last options for many people with chronic joint pain. But such methods have multiple risks and complications, and long-term success rates can be very low.

Joint pain from an old football injury can lead to negative feelings about the game and may even make a few parents leery about letting their little quarterback experience football. One of the problems that retired players have to deal with is that they do not have access to the health care that NFL players receive. If a linebacker is having pain in his knee, his options are not pain relievers or joint-replacement surgery — both would likely keep him out of the game.

That player would instead receive treatments to heal the injury and get him back on the field. One of the perks in professional sports is that doctors think outside of the conventional medicine box to treat players and get them back to work.

Treatments that can permanently relieve pain by addressing the root cause are considered joint regeneration. Treatments such as prolotherapy, prolozone and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) can actually heal old or new joint injuries, because they work to heal and re-stabilize the damaged areas. An injection is given within the damaged joint, which causes a healing response from the body.

By intentionally causing swelling within an injured joint, blood flow is increased to the site, bringing nutrients and oxygen. Prolozone treatments can facilitate recovery by directly injecting oxygen into the joint. Depending on the player’s needs, certain homeopathic remedies may also be used in conjunction with the treatments to further promote healing of the joint.

Just about every part of the body has the capacity to heal itself — it just needs the right environment. Blood is full of the things required for healing, but areas within the joints do not have many capillaries. Assisting blood flow to a damaged knee or hip can significantly aid in a total recovery, regardless of when or how the injury was sustained.

Injuries to ligaments, such as the MCL and LCL, are caused by stretching or tearing when the foot is firmly planted and a sideways force is directed to the knee — something common in football. If the torn ligament does not heal properly, instability in the joint and the possibility to reinjure it are highly likely.

Injury to the ACL, which is usually more serious than those to other injured ligaments, often requires major physical therapy over many months. However, pain and complications can haunt a person with such an injury for the rest of his life. Almost any injury to a ligament or tendon in almost any joint responds beautifully to joint regeneration. Unlike some other injections, which have to be repeated twice yearly and just mask the pain for a short period of time, regeneration injections permanently eliminate pain. Tendons and ligaments are strengthened and returned to a pre-injury state.

Pain can greatly impact a person’s life. It can make playing with kids or grandkids something that can only be done around the kitchen table or sitting down. Even attending an actual football game can be impossible because of pain.

Prolozone, prolotherapy and PRP may undo all kinds of joint damage and there is no time frame in which to receive these treatments. They can be effective 20 years after the fact — but no one should live in pain that long. A skilled physician can customize a treatment plan that may have the patient experiencing substantial pain reduction just after one treatment.

These therapies have been helping athletes and everyday Joes for years, and they are completely safe and effective. People should not let pain from any sports injury dictate their quality of life. They should just take away the lessons learned and the memories they have from their time playing the sport, and not the pain.


Paul Stallone, N.M.D., founded the Arizona Integrative Medical Center, located in Scottsdale, Ariz. He combines natural, alternative and conventional treatments to best fit each patient’s needs. or 480-214-3922.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 5, October/November 2012.

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