Answering Common Questions About This New Form of Treatment
When it comes to the new and exciting field of regenerative medicine, naturally, there are a lot of questions surrounding it. As far as types of treatment goes, regenerative medicine is only just now starting to make it into the mainstream. The amount of data behind it finally supports it being administered to a broader patient base in phases that have gone beyond “testing” and “clinical trials.” We now know regenerative medicine works, but we’re still a long way off from fully realizing its true potential. There’s also much to educate the general public on regarding how it works and what types of conditions it can be used for. So, let’s answer some of the more common questions about regenerative medicine.
What is Regenerative Medicine?
Whereas most forms of medical treatment simply treat the symptoms of an issue while the body is allowed to heal, regenerative medicine takes things a step further. Using methods that involve replacing, engineering, or regenerating human cells, the treatments aim to promote growth of tissues that have been damaged or are missing. Simply put, your own cells are used to regenerate new cells where they are deficient.
Regenerative medicine is currently being used by several orthopedic doctors and physicians for its expedited healing properties. A torn tendon, for instance, will eventually heal on its own. However, with the benefits of regenerative medicine, that very same torn tendon will heal faster and more efficiently.
What Are Some Types of Regenerative Medicine?
- Stem cell treatments: Stem cells are the building blocks of a person’s cellular makeup. Under the right conditions, stem cells can be manipulated to become cells with a specific function. Examples include blood cells, brain cells, or bone cells just to name a few. Although stem cells show great promise in treating conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and musculoskeletal conditions, there’s controversy around the harvesting method – specifically embryonic stem cells. However, stem cells can be taken from a healthy fully grown adult and be used to treat a patient who needs a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. In some cases, the stem cells can be given back to the patient. This is referred to as an autologous transplant.
- Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy: The usage of platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy is becoming more widespread. Unlike stem cell treatments, this form of regenerative therapy uses the patient’s own blood to harvest platelets, which can be used to speed up the healing process for injuries that are sports-related, associated with aging, or otherwise. Think of the platelets as healing cells. By taking a sample of blood and then isolating the platelets, doctors can then inject the platelet-rich plasma into the area of the body that can benefit from a boost in healing properties (such as an injured joint).
- Prolotherapy: When a certain part of the body is injured it becomes inflamed. That inflammation kicks off a process of drawing critical healing cells to the injured area such as fibroblasts, macrophages, monocytes, and granulocytes. In some cases, the inflammation subsides before the healing is truly over. Hence, where prolotherapy comes in. This is a process in which an orthopedic doctor or physician will cause inflammation in a certain area (via injection) to get those healing cells active again.
Is Regenerative Medicine Safe?
There are plenty of medical facilities that are using regenerative medicine as a method of treatment. What patients have to be mindful of is the status of the particular treatment. As a patient, you’ll want to ask if the treatment is FDA-approved or if it’s still in clinical trials. This list of approved cellular and gene therapy products should be helpful.
Just like with any area of medicine, safety is ultimately determined by the medical professional performing it. The short answer is “yes, regenerative medicine is safe,” however, patients should be mindful of experience when researching a physician or orthopedic doctor to potentially perform a treatment such as PRP or stem cell-based treatments. Since this is a newer form of treatment, it’s perfectly reasonable for patients to ask doctors to provide an extensive background on treatments before moving forward with anything.
Regarding the risk factors, there’s always the possibility that by removing cells from the body and then reintroducing them can cause infection or the cells may be rejected. However, patients should take comfort in the fact that risk in regenerative medicine is very low, and the potential benefits far outweigh them.
Schedule Your Appointment Today with Mid-America Orthopedics
If you are currently suffering with joint pain or problems with mobility, the best way to get on the road to recovery is by scheduling an appointment with Mid-America Orthopedics. Our orthopedic doctors and surgeons have decades of combined experience evaluating and treating injuries of all types throughout the body. In most cases, effective treatment can be given without the need for surgery. However, there are some cases in which surgery or regenerative therapy may be the best course of action to get you the pain relief you need. In the event that you require surgery, you can rest assured that Mid-American Orthopedics has some of the best orthopedic surgeons in the Kansas City area. We also will take the time to work with you on pain management and physical therapy after your surgery is over.
Take the first step towards pain relief today by booking an examination with Mid-America Orthopedics. For the convenience of our patients, we can typically schedule same-day or next-day appointments.