Charlie Furbush will undergo 'Regonkine Therapy' in hopes of bringing relief to his troublesome left shoulder. The treatment worked for Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez and Fred Couples on their various ailments.
PEORIA. Ariz. — If it worked for Kobe Bryant’s knee, then maybe it can work for Charlie Furbush’s shoulder.
The Mariners’ left-handed relief specialist will undergo “Regenokine Therapy” on Wednesday in hopes of removing the tightness in the lower-deltoid portion of his left shoulder and resume his journey back to the bullpen.
The treatment, which was invented by German orthopedist Dr. Peter Wehling, involves taking a patient’s blood and heating it in an incubator, which is supposed to bring out proteins that reduce inflammation and stimulate cellular growth. The blood is then spun on a centrifuge and later re-injected into the patient’s area of pain. For Furbush, that would be in his upper back/lower shoulder where he’s had persistent tightness since throwing a live batting practice session March 7.
The procedure supposedly is different than a a platelet-rich plasma injection — another vogue treatment — because it is supposed to treat inflammation that is causing tissue damage beside the area near the joint. In a PRP treatment, the blood is not heated, just spun to bring out he platelets. Besides Bryant, Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez had the treatment for his hip and golfer Fred Couples had it for his chronic back pain.
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The Mariners training staff suggested it as a possibility.
“I’m giving it a whirl,” Furbush said. “They brought up as something to try. It’s something that a lot of other athletes have tried and seemed to have pretty good results. I’m hoping to be part of that group.”
Furbush didn’t know if any pitchers had tried the treatment.
“I don’t mind being the first,” he said. “Hopefully I’m good from there.”
At this point, the prior methods haven’t worked for Furbush. He was shut down last July 9 because of what was believed to be biceps tendinitis. After failed attempts to return to the mound, he was diagnosed with a partially torn rotator cuff and shut down for the season.
He spent the offseason in Seattle, rehabbing and strengthening the shoulder. He started a throwing program in January and began throwing off a mound when pitchers and catchers reported to spring training Feb. 19. He seemed on track to be ready for opening day, particularly after his second live-batting-practice session.
Following that session, Furbush said he felt ready to start pitching in Cactus League games. But the next day he felt tightness in that lower-deltoid area. The team moved cautiously, dialing back his throwing sessions. After the tightness would subside from treatment, it would return after throwing sessions.
“I’m going to try this and hopefully be back soon,” he said. “It’s nothing I’m too worried about. I’m eager to try something and see if I can get relief from that list little bit and get over the hump. I think I was pretty close before. And then I got that last little bit of tightness. If I can just get rid of that, I should be good.”
The therapy won’t make the shoulder feel better immediately. There is a waiting period before he can resume throwing. And then it becomes a day-to-day process.
“I wish I knew the exact time frame,” he said. “All things being equal, I hopefully should be able to start a throwing program in three weeks. All this stuff is tentative, I wish I had an exact day to tell you. Seeing spring go by hasn’t been easy. I just have to do everything I can to get back.”