Introducing Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Therapy
As we age, our ability to repair damaged tissue, whether it is tendons, ligaments or cartilage, diminishes. Focused therapies, rehabilitation and a therapeutic injection can be quite helpful, and in some cases, might be all that is needed to treat the underlying pathology.
As the painful conditions progress, traditional options to decrease inflammation and pain are limited (e.g. ibuprofen, opioid pain medication and repeated cortisone injections) and in many cases they do nothing to actually treat the ongoing problem. This would be similar to treating a rattling noise in your car engine by turning up the radio. The noise would be drowned out but the problem in the engine is getting worse and likely getting much harder and more “costly” to treat.
Regenerative medicine, which consists of stem cells and other cellular therapies, is changing this traditional approach. Instead of simply masking the pain, these therapies regenerate damaged tissue to alleviate pain by correcting the underlying problem and restoring normal function.
Commonly Treated Conditions
- Knee arthritis, ligament (ACL, MCL) tear, meniscus tear
- Shoulder arthritis, rotator cuff tear/tendonitis, labral tear
- Elbow arthritis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow
- Wrist/thumb (CMC) arthritis, TFCC tear
- Sacroiliiac (SI) joint arthritis
- Hip arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis
- Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis
- Ankle/great toe arthritis
Bone Marrow Aspiration (BMA) Stem Cell
Bone marrow is the spongy tissue found in the center of bones. Its main job is to make the blood cells that circulate in your body, which include immune cells that recognize foreign invaders and fight infection. Bone marrow is unique in that it contains a rich supply of a broad range of stem cells that have been shown to support the repair and growth of bone, cartilage, muscle, marrow, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue.
Under ultrasound guidance, bone marrow is drawn (aspirated) most commonly from the pelvis, but it may be drawn from other sites as well by a simple in-office procedure. Since the patient is given a local anesthetic, very minimal discomfort results from the procedure. The physician then delivers the concentrated bone marrow directly into the application site on your body. This greatly enhances the regenerative healing cascade. The aspirated bone marrow regenerates naturally within the site it was taken from.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
A small sample of your blood is drawn (similar to a lab test sample) and placed in a centrifuge that spins the blood at high speeds, separating the platelets from the other components. The concentrated platelet rich plasma (PRP) is then injected into and around the point of injury, jump-starting and significantly strengthening the body’s natural healing process.
We always start our PRP treatment with a musculoskeletal ultrasound evaluation (see diagnostic ultrasound). Ultrasound helps us pinpoint the exact location of the pain site, making the treatment much more effective for pain relief and healing. Because ultrasound is performed in real-time, our physicians have the ability to watch on a monitor as the needle is placed precisely in the correct position for the injection. A local anesthetic will be applied to the area followed by PRP injection with ultrasound guidance to ensure that the appropriate target is reached.
Amniotic/Umbilical Cord Allograft Injection
Amniotic and umbilical cord allograft tissue contain unprecedented amounts of growth factors. These anti-inflammatory and regenerative elements help heal injured tissue and treat painful conditions such as joint and soft tissue inflammation, arthritis and damaged cartilage.
The anti-inflammatory properties found in the amniotic and umbilical cord allograft injection can reduce swelling and inflammation, as well as speed up the body’s healing process. Many times, simply by reducing the inflammation, pain is alleviated. In addition, amniotic and umbilical cord tissue has an anti-adhesive and antimicrobial property to enhance healing and promote reduced scarring, in addition to germ-fighting capabilities beneficial for wound healing.