While removing a tree at work back in 2015, Vicente, a groundskeeper for Duckhorn Vineyards, suddenly felt a painful tear in his back. The injury resulted in years of debilitating back pain. Now, thanks to regenerative medicine procedures received through the Vineyard Worker Health Program, Vicente is enjoying some much-needed relief.

After his injury, Vicente consulted with physicians who explained that his options were to either have surgery or simply wait it out and try to let his body heal on its own through physical therapy and reduced activity. 

Vicente was advised that surgery was not guaranteed to fix his problem, so he decided not to go that route and endure the pain in hopes it would eventually get better. For years he was careful not to do anything that might aggravate his condition and diligently kept up with the exercises prescribed to him by his physical therapist. However, Vicente continued to suffer setbacks. He would experience periodic and painful flare-ups, sometimes just by turning the wrong way, causing Vicente to miss several days of work.

Then about a year ago, Vicente was introduced to the Vineyard Worker Health Program, funded by Napa Medical Research Foundation, and made his first appointment with the Bodor Clinic to explore regenerative treatment options. Vicente ultimately received Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections to his injured discs. Vicente explains that within two weeks of his first procedure, his pain was significantly reduced. However, although the pain was relieved from his lower back, Vicente was still experiencing pain that had migrated down below his waist. A diagnostic ultrasound showed that the pain was caused by a ligament sprain from the original injury surrounding one of Vicente’s Sacroiliac (SI) joints*.

It is not uncommon for a back injury to affect the SI joint. According to the Mayfield Clinic, pain in the SI joint “can occur as the result of a fall, work injury, car accident, pregnancy and childbirth, or hip/spine surgery.” PRP has the ability to heal damaged tissue and strengthen ligaments, so this past February, Vicente received PRP injections directly into his SI joint and surrounding ligaments. He reports that about a month after his procedure, he began feeling much better.

Today, Vicente is starting to resume many of the physical activities he used to enjoy before his injury, such as biking and walking. “Now, little by little I have been able to ride my bike and walk more,” says Vicente. He reports that his pain has decreased from a level 6 to a level 3, on a scale from 1 to 10. Additionally, Vicente says that when he does have setbacks, his recovery time is much shorter, which has reduced the number of days he has to miss work: “I feel lucky to have discovered that this kind of treatment exists for people because before my doctors said ‘oh no – there is nothing we can do for you’.”

Vicente is the very first participant in the foundation’s Vineyard Worker Health Program. So far, all participants have reported that their pain has been reduced, increasing their productivity in both their free time and while at work. The foundation continues to spread the word about this beneficial community program and is actively accepting new patients. The Vineyard Worker Health Program benefits participants by providing regenerative medicine not covered through insurance, allowing treatment that may not otherwise be financially feasible. The goal of the program is to help the community lead an active life with less pain.

*The SI joints are located between the iliac bones and the sacrum, connecting the spine to the hips. The two joints provide support and stability,

and play a major role in absorbing impact when walking and lifting.. –

How does regenerative medicine help repair injured or herniated discs?
The exact mechanism as to how platelet-rich plasma resolves pain in discs is not known, but involves a change in pain signaling at the site of

injury or a repair of the collagen network, as described in a recently accepted article in the Spine Journal by Ryan Dregalla, Yvette Uribe and Marko Bodor.