Patient Finds Relief Through Non-Surgical Procedure

Jeff Zaputil - Waterloo Patient Story.jpg

Jeff Zaputil wanted to explore a non-surgical alternative to battle chronic pain.

What he got was a double portion of relief.

Jeff struggled with severe lower back pain for nearly a decade. The 62-year-old was considering surgery but wanted to explore every other avenue first. He’d tried conservative treatments, epidurals and physical therapy. At best, those options provided some relief. At worst, he had days where he laid on the floor and struggled to get up.

Eventually, Jeff was referred to the UnityPoint Health – Allen Hospital Center for Pain, where Dr. Ashar Afzal recommended regenerative medicine. It’s a process where Super Concentrated Platelet (SCP) is injected using advanced imaging techniques, such as ultrasound or fluoroscopy for precise placement.

The injections contact healing growth “factors” that enhance your body’s natural ability to repair itself. The procedure often helps with issues related to osteoarthritis, joint injuries, spine pain, overuse conditions and common sports injuries.

Jeff was both optimistic yet skeptical, as he knew regenerative medicine doesn’t work for everybody. Still, he underwent a procedure in October 2021 and waited several months to see if it would help.

About nine months later he had his answer, and it was better than he could have anticipated.

“It’s worked very well for me,” says Jeff, who has supplemented the procedure with regular back exercises and stretching. “I’m basically pain-free in my back now. I really don’t have any back issues. I get up in the morning these days, and it’s not a big deal. Every now and then I lift my bulldog, which weighs about 75 pounds, and it doesn’t bother me.”

However, Jeff’s battle with pain was transitioned to his right knee. He injured it playing football at Wartburg College in the early 1980s and never got it repaired. So, Jeff asked Dr. Afzal to try regenerative medicine on his knee in December. The early results have been encouraging.

“It seems to be working, and I really can’t do anything with it for a couple months yet,” Jeff says.

“Jeff has been an ideal candidate for regenerative medicine,” said Dr. Afzal. “He was open-minded about exploring an alternative form of pain relief. Then he researched it and was well-educated about the procedure and its outcomes long before the procedure.

“Jeff wanted to take control of his healthcare, and this was a safe and proactive way for him to do just that.”

For Jeff, the care provided by Dr. Afzal and the pain clinic has been more than just effective. It’s been exemplary.

“Now, whenever I talk to someone who’s having pain issues, I tell them about the clinic,” Jeff says. “In fact, I’ve sent several family members there. I tell them, ‘Whatever you do, before you have surgery, go to there first. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you can always have your surgery.’”