Regenerative medicine began in the 1950s, when the first bone marrow transplant was performed. Since then, researchers have identified other cells in your body responsible for healing and rebuilding new tissues. Now we have the ability to extract those very cells and use them as treatments to heal and relieve your pain.
Behnam Khaleghi, MD, and our team at Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center often recommend regenerative therapies to relieve the symptoms of arthritis, tendonitis, and other rheumatic conditions. Here’s what you need to know about the two primary regenerative treatments: stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy.
The role of platelets in PRP therapy
Platelets naturally reside in your blood, where they’re best known for clotting blood after an injury. But that’s not all they do. Platelets are packed with proteins called growth factors that are responsible for activating and accelerating healing.
There are many different types of growth factors that trigger a variety of healing activities, but as a group, they:
- Regulate inflammation
- Stimulate new blood vessel growth
- Recruit stems cells to the area
- Prevent degeneration of healthy tissues
- Trigger healing activities in the nearby cells
Growth factors also build the matrix that supports new cells as they develop into mature tissues.
The benefits of injecting concentrated platelets
We make PRP in the office by drawing a sample of your blood and processing it in a centrifuge. After the centrifuge separates the platelets and plasma from other blood cells, we have PRP — a high concentration of platelets in a small amount of plasma.
Injecting PRP directly at the site of injured tissues gives your body a dramatic healing boost. PRP is especially beneficial if your body’s normal response has slowed down, your injury is severe enough to overwhelm your body, or the injury is in an area with a low blood supply.
The regenerative power of stem cell therapy
Just as there are numerous types of growth factors, your body also contains a wide variety of adult stem cells. These cells have the remarkable ability to continuously self-replicate and produce new cells capable of developing into different types of tissues.
Throughout your life, adult stem cells keep you healthy by creating new cells to replace old and injured cells. One particular group of stem cells, called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), are perfect for treating musculoskeletal problems because they produce new collagen, muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, fat, and bone.
We can extract MSCs from your own body fat or bone marrow, concentrate them, and inject them exactly where your body needs healing support.
Health conditions that benefit from stem cell and PRP therapy
Stem cell and PRP therapy, either alone or together, treat many inflammatory conditions, as well as diseases and injuries that affect your musculoskeletal system. Here are just two examples:
Osteoarthritis, a common form of arthritis, develops as cartilage breaks down from daily wear and tear. PRP and stem cells help regenerate the cartilage and reduce inflammation. PRP may also stimulate hyaluronic acid production, a substance that relieves pain and improves movement by lubricating the joint.
When you have an inflamed tendon, a condition called tendonitis, it’s important to heal quickly to prevent scarring and weakness. Healing is a challenge, however, because tendons tend to have a limited blood supply compared to other tissues in your body. An injection of PRP and stem cells overcomes this problem and helps heal the tendon.
To learn if you’re a good candidate for stem cell or PRP therapy, call one of our offices in Orange or Laguna Hills, California, or schedule an appointment online.