One SEAL’s Secret to Combatting Chronic Pain

Black Bag Confidential Reader,

Given my career path, it’s safe to say I’ve been pretty tough on my body.

I’m 48 years old and (up until recently) couldn’t walk without “bone on bone” pain in my left knee. I had been dealing with this for over three years. I hadn’t been able to run for over a year.

My 94-year-old stepfather (God bless him) uses a walker, but F*CK THAT. I wasn’t ready to go there, so it was time to take decisive action: knee surgery.

Exploring My Options

Trust me, I didn’t rush into this. I explored every available nonsurgical option first, starting with cortisone shots. They were supposed to last two–three months but were effective for only about a week.

Next, I tried viscosupplementation — also known as hyaluronic acid injections or hyaluronan injections. This involves injecting a lubricating fluid called hyaluronic acid into the knee.

Hyaluronic acid is already present in the joint fluid in healthy knees, but it’s found in lower concentrations in joints affected by osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, this treatment had ZERO EFFECT.

Then I tried stem cell injections. Yes, the future. The “witches’ brew” that would cure all ailments and make everything good again. NOPE!

This also had ZERO effect — except the $2,000 that left my checking account. Now, there are a lot of opinions out there about stem cell treatment and its efficacy. All I can tell you is what I experienced. It was supposed to start working in about four–six weeks and never did. Wish I had that $2,000 back…

The Last Resort

My final option was knee replacement surgery and I made sure to do my homework. I attended a seminar by Dr. Clint Brian Blackwood — aka “The Man” — from the BoulderCentre of Orthopedics in which he described a new joint (knee or hip) replacement technique called Mako.

Basically, this is a robotic-assisted surgery that:

  1. Reduces human error.
  2. Reduces chance of infection.
  3. Is MUCH less invasive.
  4. Reduces recovery time.

So in late January, I pulled the trigger and now have a new left knee. Here’s what it looked like a week after the operation — pretty amazing:

Week 1 post op

As I’m writing this article, I am nine weeks post-op and could not be happier. I am walking, air squatting, biking… ALL pain-free.

The funny thing about living with chronic pain is you tend to just accept it — especially when you think you are a “tough guy.” But you don’t have to. Everyone I talked to who had this procedure ALL said the same thing: “I wish I had done it sooner.”

Taking care of your body is an equally important aspect of preparedness. If the SHTF, you’ll have to rely on your mobility — and you’ll definitely want everything to be in working order.

I hope reading about my experience is helpful to you. And I would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Just send an email to

Be a survivor… not a statistic,

Cade Courtley

Cade Courtley

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