When asked how important having a pain-free elbow is, professional furniture refinisher Bill Belmonte, 48 of Westmont, IL replied, “on a scale from 1 to 10, it’s 100.”
Four years ago when Belmonte started having elbow pain, he feared what it might mean for his future. He worried that his affected elbow would sideline him from his recreational activities, like coaching youth baseball and skiing; but he was most concerned that his livelihood as the owner of a furniture restoration company was in jeopardy. “I didn’t know what the future was going to look like if the pain didn’t go away,” he explained.
His everyday work tasks such as sanding, painting, lifting and manipulating furniture was a struggle. Eventually, just writing at his desk hurt and the pain migrated to his shoulder. This really concerned him and he knew ignoring the problem was only making it worse. Belmonte saw a physician who diagnosed him with epicondylitis, also called ‘tennis elbow.’ His physician told him that in most cases, this condition resolves itself with rest. But, with the physical demands of his job, Belmonte didn’t consider rest an option. “I don’t have a desk job,” he explains. “In my very physical line of work I use my elbow all the time and using it is how I support my family.”
While at work one day, Belmonte became engaged in conversation with a client who noticed the band on his elbow and recommended that he see Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush sports medicine physician Dr. Nikhil Verma.
He took the advice and made an appointment with Dr. Verma who encouraged Belmonte to try platelet-rich plasma (PRP), a concentrated source of healing factors taken from a patient’s own blood. He explained that after a blood draw, platelets and liquid plasma are separated out in something called a centrifuge. Then, the platelets and plasma are re-injected into the injured area to stimulate and maximize healing.
Belmonte agreed to the treatment and afterward, he quickly saw improvement. “All of a sudden [within a week],” he explained, “I could do things without pain that I couldn’t do before.”
“I could do things without pain that I couldn’t do before.”
Since then, he has repeated the PRP treatment to address some lingering pain and after which he has experienced even more improvement in pain reduction and mobility. “I’ve been recommending [PRP] to everyone I know,” he jokes.
He’s come a long way from taking daily pain medication and barely able to turn a steering wheel. Belmonte is now happily back fully to his daily work and passions.