In the ever changing world of sports medicine, athletes will continue to get hurt and spend valuable time away from the field, court or snow. What is new, is that many of your favorite sport figures have used regenerative (biologic’s) therapy to speed recovery and return back to sport ready to help their team back into the championship or the big game. Many athletes have used this regenerative medicine to speed recovery from an untimely injury such as Tiger Woods, Andre Kirilenko (Utah Jazz) & Hines Ward (Pittsburgh Steelers). The use of biologics to help regenerate damage tissue is now being used by many professional sports teams including NFL, NBA and MLB.
So what is regenerative medicine and how can it help you recover from you musculoskeletal injury (MSK). Regenerative medicine uses Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) to speed tissue recovery. PRP isn’t new to medicine, just new to musculoskeletal medicine. It has been used in maxillofacial and plastic surgery since the early 1990s. It helps regenerate damaged tissue and has successfully helped many patients with severe facial trauma from accidents. More recently, PRP has been adapted to MSK injuries with great success. It is becoming more widely known as it works! It a simple idea, use your body’s own natural healing responses and enhance them. It works by taking some of your blood, concentrating the platelets to several times their normal levels by centrifuging them and then giving them back to you in the concentrated form. We use ultrasound guidance to precisely place this concentrated healing mixture into the injured tissue.
Platelets carry several important growth hormones that are activated and released when they form a clot. The hormones (growth factors) recruit other cells to the area to initiate the healing cascade. One of these migrating cells are called Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC) which are pleuripotent, meaning that they can change into whatever cell type that is needed to repair the injury. These cells can help to regenerate tendons, muscle, cartilage, bone and nerve cells. Regenerative medicine is just in the beginning stages of learning how to turn on these important cells to help you fix you!
PRP can be used to help heal many MSK injuries and have been successfully used in our clinic in treating many different types of injuries. These include:
- Tendinopathies: Partial and degenerative tears to tendons seen in injuries like tennis and golfer’s elbow, plantar fasciosis, patella tendinosis, partial rotator cuff tears and Achilles tendon tears.
- Muscle and Ligament Conditions: Muscle tears or chronic ligament sprains such as hamstring tears, medial collateral ligament tear (knees) and ankle ligament tears.
Newer areas of treatment include cartilage conditions such as osteochondral tears to the knee, meniscal and shoulder labral tears. With these injuries, bone marrow can also used to help augment the PRP regenerative capabilities.
So what are the advantages to regenerative therapy?
- Safety: Numerous studies have shown that PRP is a safe alternative to surgery with no long-term complications.
- Autologous: The biologics come from you and are injected back into you. There is no chance of a reaction to your own blood. The procedure is done all in one visit.
- Regeneration: New tissue is formed without the risk of scarring from surgery.
- Faster Recovery: Compared to surgery, less pain, early return to motion and less muscle atrophy.
- Less Expensive: No anesthesia, no operating room expense, no facility fee. The procedure is done here in our office, takes about 30 minutes to perform. The only down side is many insurance companies deny coverage as it too new or consider it to be experimental. Montana workers compensation does pay for it along with some other carriers. If you have a large deductible or health savings account, the expense is considerably less than surgery.
- No preclusion of surgery: If the procedure failed to work, you can still consider surgical options. Studies indicated that regenerative therapy reduces the need for surgery about 70-80%.
- Effective: Numerous laboratory and animal studies have shown biologics work! Human trials are ongoing. Ask around…we have already helped many people back to sport, work or play.
- Efficient: There is no need to wait for tissue cultures to grow. The procedure is usually done in less the 30 minutes.
If you have more questions about biologics, please contact us for more information.