By Ed Coghlan
Joe Pisarcik last played in an NFL game in 1985. He has A reminder of the wear and tear of playing football for nearly twenty years is the pain he is in every day.
“There are guys in much worse shape that I am,” he said. “But the pain is constant.”
Two knee surgeries, three epidural steroid injections in his lower back and taking up to 1200 mg of Advil every day all used to address the pain.
“The average professional football player is worn down,” he said. “Pain, for many of us is a constant. Hands, fingers, chronically sore backs and bad knees are a part of the deal.”
Pisarcik is now president of NFL Alumni, which advocates for players once their careers are over.
“We have a focus on wellness, encouraging our guys to keep in shape, eat right, take vitamins and practice preventive medicine,” he said.
He was interviewed by the National Pain Report recently along with Dr. Brian Pryor, who is CEO of LiteCure which makes the LightForce Laser, which the NFL Alumni Association has endorsed as a partner.
Simply put, the laser shines light deep into the tissue to inspire mitochondria in the body to produce more ATP, which promotes healing of impaired cells after an injury.
The technology has been FDA approved since 2007 and is used by physical therapists and chiropractors.
“Pain Medicine doctors aren’t using it as much,” Dr. Pryor said. “They are heavy into pharmacologic and injections for treating their patients.”
The technology is being on U.S. military bases, but not “much yet” in the VA.
Insurance doesn’t cover the treatment, which cost around $50 each time.
Pisarcik’s area of focus is chronic lower back pain. He experienced significant result for his chronic back pain in about 3 treatments, and estimates he has had 30-to-40 treatments with the laser which increases circulation and reduces swelling.
“I’d rather not have the surgeries so I use this to keep me up and running doing things I like to do,” he said.
Pisarcik played professional football in Canada and then in the NFL for the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles.
While many chronic pain patients might tell you they would live their life differently if it meant avoiding years of pain, the 63-year-old Pisarcik isn’t one of them.
“We knew what we were getting into,” he said. “If I had it to do over again, where do I sign?”
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