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VOL. 129 | NO. 30 | Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vic Fleming

Healing in Las Vegas

By Vic Fleming

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Last year, I injured my left ring finger. Despite treatment, it got worse. By year’s end, it was popping each time I opened my hand. And hurting like crazy when I squeezed my hand shut. My family doc diagnosed “trigger finger” and assured me minor surgery could fix it.

Remember Dr. David Harshfield, founder of the College of Integrative Medicine, the guy who injected my knee with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) in 2011? He doubles as my golf partner. Telling him of my digital malady, I said I’d probably miss a tourney he and I usually team up on in early spring.

I also mentioned a sore shoulder that was not responding to manipulative therapy. A day went by as he thought this over. Then he emailed me: “Medical convention in Vegas this weekend. Be there Friday. Dr. Shiple from Philly will treat your finger. Dr. Lemper from Vegas will treat your shoulder.” This was Wednesday.

“Say what?” I replied. “Are you serious?” Several members of a medical association were gathering to share tips, techniques and developments before the organization’s annual meeting in April. I was officially invited to have my ailments treated as part of the group’s continuing education program.

The field of cellular medicine fascinates me. Certain precepts seem all too simple: Blood heals. Slightly altered blood, introduced into a wounded area of the body, sets about doing its job – healing.

I flew into Las Vegas on Thursday and was introduced to some health care pros who are bent on changing the world. At their meetings, they don’t just schedule lectures and share trade secrets. They treat each other, and the occasional outsider. They watch each other work and work as their peers watch them.

Dr. Brian Shiple – founder of the Center for Sports Medicine in Philadelphia – treated my trigger finger on Friday. He opted against PRP at this stage. Instead, guided by ultrasound, he used a small needle to inject a steroid solution into scar tissue on the pulley that controls my ring finger. Others watched as he narrated, explaining the how’s and why’s in such a way that even I understood. The relief was immediate, though not total, which was expected. Day by day, it got better.

Dr. Brian Lemper, founder of Las Vegas’s Center for Surgical Intervention, lent his state-of-the-art clinic – physical plant and staff – to the conference. He treated my shoulder with targeted injections of PRP, describing his procedures, as I listened and others watched. An x-ray image of my upper spine drew oohs and aahs from the crowd. Day by day, I felt improvement.

I was back on the golf course two weeks after being under the needle.

My gratitude goes out to those mentioned herein and others as well. As I did following my knee treatment in 2011, I’ll keep you posted.

BTW, the patient, I was reminded, isn’t to sit back and expect PRP to do all the work: “Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and be smart!” I’ve been doing that, and have lost 10 pounds since the trip.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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