Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative Medicine

Understanding Regenerative Medicine

Physiatrists combine traditional sports medicine with regenerative medicine techniques including platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell injections. PRP is made from your blood and has high concentrations of growth factors. Stem cells are cells in your body that help repair injuries. Injecting PRP or stem cells into an injury stimulates healing.

Regenerative medicine starts with a good understanding of your diagnosis to first see if you are a candidate for these types of therapies. During a consultation with your Physiatrist you will be evaluated based on your physical exam and imaging studies and he or she will go over all of the methods you have tried so far for treatment. Your Physiatrist may also use diagnostic ultrasound to scan the area of your body that is injured to determine and confirm the diagnosis. Either on the same visit or on a subsequent visit he or she will perform the regenerative medicine injection again using musculoskeletal ultrasound to place the agent exactly where it is needed to heal the tissue. Examples of conditions that are ideal for these treatments are rotator cuff partial tears, tennis elbow, Achilles tendon problems and knee or hip arthritis.

PRP Injection Procedure

Your body responds to injuries by delivering platelet cells containing growth and healing factors to an injured area. These platelets initiate the repair process and attract the critical assistance of stem cells. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy aides the body’s natural healing process by delivering a higher concentration of platelets directly into the area of need. PRP is formed by drawing a sample of your blood, which is centrifuged to isolate and concentrate the blood platelets. The PRP is precisely injected back into the area in need of repair, enhancing the healing process. The process has been shown to be safe and effective and is commonly used to treat tendon, ligament, and muscle injuries as well as arthritis. This form of treatment is commonly referred to as “regenerative medicine” since the goal of the treatment is to regenerate tissue. PRP therapy is a fairly simple procedure requiring less than an hour in our clinic. Downtime following the procedure is variable depending upon what problem PRP is being used to treat. Most conditions require only one PRP injection, with minimal pain experienced during the procedure. Pain following the procedure usually resolves over a period of days to a couple weeks, depending on the type of procedure. It may take a month to 3 months to notice improvements following the injection because tissue regeneration takes time. Benefits last much longer than many other forms of treatment since PRP injections are fixing the problem rather than masking symptoms.

How Platelets Help Our Bodies

Platelet structures are fragments of cells that contain proteins necessary to help seal broken blood vessels. These include signal proteins and multiple growth factors. Following an injury, platelets are the first cells that respond to the injury. They form a clot in the injured area, which prevents further bleeding and serves as a scaffold for new tissue to grow. The platelets release growth factors to attract the cells (including stem cells) necessary to heal the area. Because platelets are the key to the natural healing process in our bodies, concentrating these healing factors and injecting them into an injured area boosts the recovery process. What better way to stimulate healing than through our own natural growth factors?

Stem Cell Procedures

Stem cells are cells that can become different types of cells. Stem cells are in all of us and help heal injured tissues such as bone, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Following some injuries, our bodies struggle to heal. This is particularly true as we get older. The stem cell procedures help stimulate healing by precisely delivering a high concentration of stem cells into the injured area, aiding your body’s ability to heal naturally. Stem cell injections are frequently combined with PRP injections since the growth factors in PRP stimulate the stem cells to do their work. Patients experience very little down time following this procedure and they avoid the long, painful rehabilitation periods that often follow surgery.

Hip Bone Marrow-Derived Stem Cells

One source of stem cells is the bone marrow. Bone marrow-derived stem cells are usually acquired from the hip bone. The procedure begins by thoroughly numbing the back of the hip. A small bone marrow sample is taken from the hip through a needle. The bone marrow is rich in Mesenchymal Stem Cells, which help heal damaged tissues. The stems cells are isolated from the marrow sample in a centrifuge and injected directly into the injured area using advanced imaging guidance. This ensures the cells are delivered to the exact location of need. Frequently, a PRP injection is performed at the same time in order to provide growth factors that help stimulate the healing process.

Ready to Learn More About Regenerative Medicine?

Call the Center for Orthopedics & Wellness today to learn more or to schedule your consultation with Tahoe Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Physiatrists, Dr. Gregory Burkard, Jr. or Dr. Alison Ganong: 530.543.5554.