Will Johnson lost sensation in his feet two years ago, forcing him to work nearly every day since in extreme pain. It’s been an emotional journey for Johnson, the co-owner of a contracting business and an electrician. He says his feet first started feeling cold in 2021, then tingly, then numb. Then they hurt badly. He couldn’t walk across a hard-wood floor barefoot without excruciating pain.
But today Will Johnson is clearly ecstatic over the healing he experienced in earlier this month at Loma Linda University Health’s Neuropathy Therapy Center (NTC), a facility that provides an innovative approach to treating nerve pain that’s natural and wholistic. Johnson can now walk without debilitating pain and feels he’s been given his life back.
“I had tried everything,” he recalls, listing off medications, traditional treatments, compression treatment, cold water plunges, and TENS therapy, which uses mild electric current to stimulate the affected area of the body. Doctors weren’t able to do anything for him, and the medications only made him feel worse.
The 36-year-old Bakersfield, Calif, resident hadn’t been able to walk without extreme pain in his feet for two years because of neuropathy brought on after contracting COVID-19 and a rare form of adult-onset diabetes. Numerous doctors had merely prescribed medication that only gave him terrible side effects, including one that caused him to go nearly blind temporarily.
Johnson was spiraling downward at his “wits end” when his wife found the NTC on an internet search. “I thought I was going to have to live that way the rest of my life,” he says. “I was willing to try anything.”
After a phone/online consultation, he made the journey to the NTC, where he met Mark Bussell, DPT, the center’s director and inventor of Intranural Facilitation, an emerging treatment that stimulates blood flow back into damaged nerves. Bussell uses a whole-person approach that includes an analysis of diet and lifestyle in addition to he his team’s natural techniques for enhancing blood flow to nerves.
At the consultation, Johnson says an initial treatment made his foot feel different. Not necessarily better — but different. “Even just that change in sensation was enough for me to think, ‘yes, I want to do the treatment plan,’” Johnson remembers.
After a week of living back at home and adjusting his diet, he came back to the NTC on the Loma Linda University Health Campus. He now remembers the second day of treatment vividly—that’s when he swung around off the table after the treatment and gingerly took a few steps across the solid floor. And he felt no pain.
“I looked at my wife, and she was already crying,” Johnson recalls. “She hadn’t seen me take a step without pain in two years. I walked a bit, turned around, and walked back—that’s when I lost it, too. I broke down. My feet felt like feet again.”
Bussell remembers that moment, too. “Will being so young and otherwise healthy, and everything he had tried, and the response from previous doctors — given all of that it wasn’t surprising he was emotional about being able to put his feet on the floor without severe pain,” Bussell says. “It’s also very emotional for me to see him and other patients to be able to walk better, to not have pain.”
Another week of treatment involved more manual stimulation of blood flow and teaching Johnson’s wife how to do some of the treatments on him at home.
Johnson continues treatment at the center and doing exercises each day on his own. And while the journey isn’t over, he says he’s hugely thankful to the NTC team for the vast reduction in pain he has experienced. He thought he would never feel this good again. And though he usually shies away from attention, he hopes that sharing his story will help more people know about the NTC so others in pain can also experience healing.
“I want everyone to know about the NTC because it’s been a gamechanger for me,” Johnson says. “I felt they were truly trying to help me, not just make a quota and revenue. They were so open about the treatment and how it was going to proceed. They also involved my wife, which was so inclusive. It’s absolutely mind-blowing what they’re doing there to help people.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing nerve pain — including weakness, numbness or chronic pain — please see the NTC website at lluh.org/services/neuropathic-therapy-center or call 909-558-6799.