In his book, "The End of Pain," Wehling writes: "(Regenokine) creates almost immediate improvement in many patients. It others, it can take several weeks to reach full effect. The impact of the therapy typically lasts two to four years. We are convinced that the number of spinal operations in the U.S. and other countries could be reduced by approximately one-third if (it) were applied. This, of course, would represent a major achievement in the treatment of low back pain."
A week later, I was in Dusseldorf, meeting Wehling at his gleaming clinic. Wehling is an energetic, cheerful man in his 40s and speaks impeccable, colloquial English. I watched as he injected the serum through long thin needles into the shoulder of one patient and into the lower backs of two others. One of the back pain sufferers said he felt immediate relief.
"Out of 100 people, 75 to 80 profit highly from the procedure and significantly," Wehling said. He cited what he said were two clinical studies supporting the effectiveness of his treatment. He said several dozen other physicians in Germany do the same procedure. As of now, only one physician does these treatments in the U.S., the co-author of his book, Dr. Christopher Renna, in Santa Monica, Calif.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not given its approval for the treatment to make the claim of effectiveness for osteoarthritis or back pain. Wehling says that requires further, larger studies that would take at least two more years. But word from some of the wealthy patients and professional athletes who've been treated by Wehling has driven a thriving practice in the treatment.
On the day I visited, Wehling was at his desk reading an ESPN news report that pro basketball players Tracy Mc Grady and Kobe Bryant had been treated with Regenokine. Citing patient confidentiality, Wehling would not comment. But shortly after I returned to the U.S., Couples won a golf tournament and told the Golf Channel he had undergone Regenokine treatment.
"It's been amazing for me. I will probably go back in December and January and I hope I get the same results. I do have some major back problems. He took all the pain away and I feel very, very good," Couples said.
Any reputable doctor will tell you the first line of treatment of back pain is to do nothing. Rest and see if it goes away. In many cases, it does, If you have chronic, persistent back pain, as I do, many doctors recommend first trying exercise or physical therapy.
A few years ago, I met a physical therapist named Ming Chew. So I went to see him at his Manhattan office to discuss his treatment which involves massaging and working the body's soft tissue.
"The body is like a fabric," Chew said. "And a fabric needs to be smooth and soft and supple. So when you put scar tissue in it, it creates adhesions, thickening of the fascia."
Chew claimed that four out of five of his patients get long-term relief from back pain. I watched as we worked on two patients. Chew believes that the place where you feel pain may not, in fact, be the source of the pain.
"I was actually treating the opposite side on the front part of his body to tear his left lower back," he said of one of his patients. "You're going to say why would I be treating the oppose? Because that's where his problems were."
Another cutting edge procedure is stem cell treatment. Among others who have had it, Texas Gov. Rick Perry reportedly credits stem cell with relieving his excruciating back pain. Stem cell treatment is also not approved by the FDA.
It is difficult to say which treatment is best for any individual's back pain. For some, acupuncture works wonders. Others profit from exercise or physical therapy. Ming Chew's patients who we spoke to said myo-fascial therapy made them feel much better. Wehling has a thick dossier of patients who will testify that Regenokine relieved or even cured their pain. All of the experts we spoke to agreed on one thing: avoid surgery until or unless it is absolutely necessary.