Golfing great Jack Nicklaus receives “secret” stem cell therapy to treat chronic back pain that marred much of his competitive professional career and continued long after, CNN reported.
The 78-year-old Golden Bear has been hailed as a legend for his five decades of golf, but during many of those years he had aggravating back pain, enough to force him to withdraw from some tournaments.
Nicklaus reportedly tried almost every therapy under the sun, including cortisol injections and a back operation.
By the time he met German stem cell pioneer Dr. Eckhard Alt at a birthday party in December 2015, Nicklaus was fed up and eager to try anything to help ease his back pain, and when Eckhard told him about an experimental therapy using adipose stem cells found in abdominal fat, Nicklaus was ready to give it a try.
Two months later, Nicklaus found himself at the Isar Klinikum in Munich, Germany, where liposuction was used to extract fat from his abdomen.
Clinic medical staff then released the stem cells from the fatty tissue through a procedure that involved straining the abdominal fat with an enzyme and then spinning it down through a centrifuge to get a concentrated islet of stem cells, according to CNN.
This was then injected back into Nicklaus.
The treatment didn’t immediately provide relief, but Nicklaus said the pain did subside within a few months.
Asked why the treatment was considered “secret,” he said he just didn’t mention it to anyone and nobody had bothered to ask him about it.
Previous research has shown there is merit to the experimental procedure.
A study carried out among 20 patients with osteoarthritis found a reduction in pain and a significant increase in activity post treatment, The Daily Mail reported.
After two years, researchers reported that pain among patients had dropped from severe to mild and their activity scores increased.
A separate study released in 2016 noted that the main advantage of adipose tissue-derived stem cells is that they can be easily and repeatably harvested using minimally invasive techniques.
As for Nicklaus, he said he plans to play 20 to 25 rounds of golf this year, CNN said, including on Monday in the Buoniconti Fund Celebrity Golf Invitational in Jupiter, Florida.
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