What Is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine is an area of healthcare that focuses on the repair of tissue that has been damaged by congenital issues, trauma, or disease. This area is characterized by identifying the cause of symptoms and addressing them rather than treating symptoms as the primary problem. The wider field of regenerative medicine utilizes various tools to improve patient outcomes, including tissue engineering, artificial organs, medical devices, and cellular therapies, which we proudly offer at TruWell Health.
Is Regenerative Medicine Effective for Arthritis?
Researchers are continually studying the effects of cellular therapies for arthritis. They theorize that stem cells may help rebuild cartilage cells in a damaged joint, suppress the inflammation that can worsen the symptoms of osteoarthritis, and release cytokines, proteins that slow the breakdown of cartilage. The introduction of PRP directly into an affected joint may reduce pain, improve the function of the joint, and potentially slow the breakdown of cartilage.
What Are the Benefits of Stem Cell Therapy for Arthritis?
The insertion of cellular products into a damaged joint may adjust inflammation to reduce pain and improve range of motion. Theoretically, these cells may also divide to form new cells that are relevant to the function of the joint. While cellular therapies are not proven to regrow new joint material where cartilage has been severely worn down, some studies indicate that a regenerative approach can improve swelling and pain. The earlier that these therapies are started, the better chance they have of achieving optimal results.
"A wonderful practice that takes great care in making sure as a patient I’ll have every question answered completely before starting my treatment." - R.R.
Are There Different Methods of Regenerative Medicine?
We are proud to provide two innovative methods of regenerative medicine for the treatment of arthritis, including stem cell therapy and PRP therapy.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are often referred to as the body’s Master Cells. They are the raw materials that generate all other cells that perform specialized functions. In the laboratory setting, researchers have observed stem cells dividing and forming what are called daughter cells. It is believed that, in the right conditions, this same replication can occur in the body. What is special about daughter cells is that they differentiate, becoming cells that perform specific functions. Examples include bone cells, muscle, and blood cells. In regenerative medicine, stem cells can be guided to differentiate into a certain type of cell that is needed to repair damaged tissue.
PRP therapy is the utilization of platelet-rich plasma, a blood product. The plasma in the blood contains a higher concentration of platelets than whole blood. This substance is believed to promote tissue healing through the actions of over 1500 different growth factors. Clinical research suggests that this regenerative medicine technique may help reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate osteoarthritis.
Are There Any Risks of Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cell therapy has been widely studied and used in the clinical environment. To date, no major adverse events have been associated with stem cells used for orthopedic conditions. The primary risk of cell-based therapies may be in the harvesting process. One harvesting technique involves placing a needle into the bone marrow to remove a small amount of blood and bone marrow cells. The other primary harvesting technique is to obtain stem cells from adipose tissue, the layer of fat beneath the skin. Anytime a needle is inserted into the skin or an incision is made, there is a risk of infection.
Is Regenerative Medicine Safe and FDA-Approved?
The FDA-approval of regenerative medicine therapies such as PRP and stem cells has been challenging. At this time, few stem cell products and techniques have been approved and, in those cases, usage is limited to very specific conditions. However, this is not due to a lack of research and safety. Platelet-rich plasma and various forms of stem cell therapy have been widely used with few reported complications. If you have questions about the safety or efficacy of regenerative medicine therapies, please contact our office. We are happy to share the latest research with you.