Regenerative medicine is a relatively new field of study and practice in the grand scheme. For centuries, humanity has theorized whether our bodies could be naturally or medically regenerated in part or whole. But it wasn’t until the 20th century that science made progress, and we could establish the field as we know it. If you haven’t heard of regenerative medicine, perhaps you’ve seen references to “stem cell research,” which are one and the same. The foundation of regenerative medicine is that our cells naturally regenerate, and using therapies, treatments, and surgeries, we can augment and optimize our native healing abilities to prevent illness and health issues. But there’s more to it, so let’s get into that.
How Does Regenerative Medicine Work?
While we use regenerative medicine in various ways, it’s all based on engineering our body’s cells to do the work. But does that mean it’s all about stem cell research in our body? Not at all. There are a few approaches to using regenerative medicine:
- Adult Stem Cell (ASC) activation or circulation to repair tissue damage
- Bolstering our natural immune system to support problem areas in the body
- Overall inflammation and pain reduction
Put somewhat simply, to stimulate our cells to work as needed, doctors who apply for regenerative medicine essentially tell our body to send the necessary signals to make them regenerate for a particular purpose: This is called the Paracrine effect. For example, they promote the amplified secretion of growth factors in a damaged area to send the message loud and clear, rapidly attracting regenerative factors. Alternatively, doctors can reduce the Paracrine effect and combat autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or arthritis.
Now, as we age, our millions of cells decrease and slow. So, that means the natural healing process goes into decline. Thus, another facet of regenerative medicine is the introduction of new stem cells into the body. That helps with anti-ageing, supplementing your natural collection of cells with new healthy ones.
Is It Tissue Engineering?
The tissue engineering process does fall under the broader blanket of regenerative medicine. It involves biological processes to create new, functional tissues that doctors can apply to damaged tissue or organs to repair and maintain them and even improve overall functionality. As exciting as that sounds, the FDA has only approved a few limited use-cases, and current processes are pretty expensive. But, as research into regenerative medicine continues, so will our tissue engineering applications.
Can It Replace Transplanting?
Eventually, with continued research, regenerative medicine holds the promise of facilitating tissue-based transplantation. However, as noted above, tissue engineering is still experimental and costly, providing a significant barrier. There is evidence that bioengineering new organs will dramatically help those on donor lists and even get transplants to those who are lower priority due to age or health. However, current bioengineering research has a long way to go before we can successfully accommodate those lofty goals.
Is It Legitimate?
While regenerative medicine as a whole is relatively young, it is a field of study and research that humanity has been working on for centuries. In medicine today, we use various treatments and therapies to help heal everything from joint injuries to adverse skin conditions and even neurological disorders (in some cases – the research is ongoing). The side effects are minimal and unharmful, though while the applications are broad, it’s not a panacea and does require proper consultation with a doctor.
Will My Insurance Cover It?
Since insurance can cover some treatments, this adds further credence to regenerative medicine’s legitimacy. However, it’s still a nebulous “yes” for many cases. Most insurance companies still haven’t developed coverage plans, mainly because they don’t know how best to profit from the process. That said, the best way to get an accurate answer is to speak with the doctors who will be administering your treatment, giving you the most thorough overview to help you find insurance possibilities.
What Is The Estimated Cost?
At the moment, as with insurance, it’s hard to give a definitive answer when it comes to the cost of regenerative medicine treatments, therapies, and surgeries. As it is the hot “new thing,” so to speak, much of the research and techniques are still developing. As with the insurance conversation, consultation with a practicing physician is the best way to get an accurate idea of your specific costs. That said, the broad estimates range between $1000 and $8000, respectively, which is an admittedly wide spectrum due to the still-experimental nature of it all.
Why Would Someone Use It Compared To Alternative Treatment?
While regenerative medicine is still a new field, it can boast proven results. What makes it attractive is the efficiency with which it can work, allowing practitioners to target treatment areas acutely. Most surgeries take a lot of time and energy for patients to recover from, while stem cell injections and other regenerative processes work quickly, requiring minimal to no recovery time (severity dependent, of course.) As with any treatment, the deciding factor will be a conversation with your doctor or physician to determine if regenerative medicine is the right fit for your needs.
If you’re experiencing pain in your joints or from arthritis, TruWell can help through PRP injections. This specific treatment targets soft tissue, ligament, and tendon damage with a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) that works fast to repair those crucial connective tissues with cell-stimulated regeneration. If you want lifelong results with a fraction of the downtime, get in touch with the team at TruWell Health by calling our office at 727-361-2162 or booking an appointment online.