Angie Rustin, left, and Dr. Jen Heller stand in Heller Healthcare in Brunswick. Rustin received regenerative medicine treatment for a disc issue in her back at Heller Healthcare in Brunswick.

Angie Rustin has always enjoyed an active lifestyle. A running enthusiast, she’s completed multiple half marathons and loves being surrounded by nature. She spends her life working hard and playing hard.

But, this past fall, one such outing took a painful and unexpected turn.

“I had gone for a walk, nothing crazy, just about two miles, and afterward. I was stretching ... I heard and felt this internal pop in my low back. It was like a pop ... but it didn’t really hurt. I was just like, ‘hmmm that was weird,’” she recalled.

Over the next few days, however, was a different story.

“I knew something was wrong. It started to hurt and it got progressively worse until I could barely walk,” Rustin said.

As the pain grew, she sought the help of her longtime chiropractor, Dr. Jennifer Heller. When Rustin walked through the doors, Heller could see that her patient was in a lot of pain.

“I’d been seeing her regularly for her tune-ups and when she came in, she was having trouble walking. She was even having trouble getting up and down on the table,” Heller recalled.

The two settled on a course of conservative treatment to begin. They worked on adjusting Rustin’s spine, gentle stretching and reducing the inflammation. But there was little progress.

“I missed a lot of work. I couldn’t even sit. I would lay on my side in my bed. I had to have help even rolling over,” she said.

It turned out that Rustin had ruptured a disc, a gel-like cushion in between the vertebras of her spine. There was little hope for relief beyond surgery. And that was something that she did not want to do.

“You know, I’m 43. I really didn’t want to have surgery,” she said.

“You’re too young,” Heller agreed.

So instead, Rustin and the Heller team started talking about the option of Regenerative Medicine. Heller Healthcare, located at 208 Scranton Connector, in Brunswick, has seen enormous success treating patients with this cutting-edge therapy.

As a longtime athlete, Rustin was familiar with Regenerative Medicine, but thought it was mainly used to treat the injuries of professional athletes, and had never considered it for herself.

After exploring the options with Heller’s team, Rustin decided Regenerative Medicine was the way to go and signed on for the treatment.

“We just weren’t getting very far and we needed a little more help,” Heller explained.

Rustin agreed. And felt it was her only chance to return to the active lifestyle she so treasured.

“I was in such terrible pain. I missed about 15 to 17 days of work that month. And emotionally it took a toll too because I was so worried that I’d never be able to do the things I enjoyed. You know, I might never want to run another half marathon, but I’d at least like to have the choice,” Rustin said. She hoped that the treatment would give her the freedom to have that option one day.

Dr. Kalpesh Mistry and nurse practitioner Kyndra Thomas delivered her treatment via injection, and it didn’t take long at all for Rustin to see results.

“I would say that within four or five days I could tell a big difference,” Rustin recalled. “I was thinking ... ‘is my brain playing tricks on me?’ But it wasn’t long before I wasn’t even taking Tylenol at night.”

And over time, her condition continued to improve. It’s been a rewarding and uplifting journey for both Rustin and the Heller team. It’s also one that Rustin hopes others will consider.

“From my experience, I would encourage people to keep an open mind and be willing to look into it. I would do it again ... and I probably will,” she said.

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