Regenerative Medicine PRP / Stem Cells
Orthopaedic injuries and degenerative conditions are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and disability. The majority of injuries do not heal well with conservative management, and frequently require surgery. Treatment of degenerative arthritis is primarily symptomatic, and may eventually require joint replacement.
Restorative procedures like stem cells and Platelet Rich Plasma may help to
facilitate healing of damaged muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage; and reduce pain and improve function with or without surgery.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
PRP is a revolutionary procedure that has been used successfully for the past two decades in oral surgery, neurosurgery, sports medicine and orthopaedics to promote wound healing. Many famous athletes have been treated with PRP for various problems like tendon injuries and strained knees. Usually these injuries are treated with medication, physical therapy and sometimes surgery. Recipients credit PRP therapy with their ability to return to play quickly.
What is PRP?
Our blood contains platelets and specific growth factors that are designed to heal injuries. Research confirms the beneficial effects of PRP are due to the high concentration of 20 growth factors, and proteins that are important in healing injuries. Studies report that PRP therapy can recruit stem cells to create new blood vessels, to nourish the new tissue so that it survives and grows strong.
How is it made?
A small amount of blood is taken from your arm. The blood is spun to separate the platelets from the rest of the blood components, and concentrate the numerous growth factors to harness their healing power.
How is it used?
PRP therapy may stimulate repair of damaged tissues, and reduce pain. It is either injected into the injured area or used after surgery. By extracting, concentrating and injecting platelet rich plasma into orthopaedic injuries PRP can potentially improve the healing process, and reduce pain. Research is evaluating the effectiveness of PRP therapy.
What conditions can be treated with PRP Therapy?
It may be used in the knee to treat acute ligament and muscle injuries. Studies underway to prove that PRP improves the healing process. Studies have shown that PRP can accelerate bone and soft tissue healing, and cartilage regeneration. But more studies are needed.
PRP is increasingly being studied for the treatment of degenerative arthritis of the knee, and to aid in healing of fractures.
Autologous stem cells
An emerging therapy for orthopaedic conditions is the use of your own body’s regenerative cells. These regenerative cells are called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). MSCs are multipotent, meaning they can differentiate into many different types of cells including bone cells, cartilage cells, smooth muscle cells, nerve cells and other tissues.
MSCs are reservoirs of repair cells that preserve healthy tissues, and are also anti-inflammatory and regenerative.
- MSC therapy is being studied to treat lesions of articular cartilage (the cartilage at the ends of bones). Cartilage lesions are the main cause of joint pain. But, cartilage has insufficient inherent ability to repair itself because it contains no blood vessels. And, many rotator cuff repairs fail because the type of cartilage that connects the rotator cuff with bone is incapable of regeneration. Augmenting the healing capacity of this cartilage with MSC therapy may increase the strength of regenerated tissue.
- MSCs are under study to improve meniscus healing. The meniscus is made of cartilage, and has low or no potential for regeneration because it lacks blood vessels.
- MSCs are being studied to accelerate healing from bone fractures. Results are promising but more studies are needed.
- Arthritis profoundly impacts quality of life. Currently there are no accepted methods to stop the joint destruction from Osteoarthritis. Current treatments only offer symptomatic relief not regenerative outcomes. Studies are showing promising outcomes with MSC therapy.
- Tendon and ligament lesions are common. Tissue grafts are currently used to reconstruct tendons and ligaments. But grafts have problems like the potential for poor healing and the poor quality of new tissue formed during the healing process. Studies are investigating whether MSCs have the ability to regenerate and repair lesions of the Achilles tendon, patellar tendons, and for ACL reconstruction.
- The ACL has no ability to repair itself, so surgical reconstruction with grafts is critical to successful surgery. MSC therapy may enhance graft success.
The application of MSC therapy is new and exciting. Science has shown that MSCs have great potential to address the most perplexing problems in Orthopaedics. Experiments are on-going to identify the best source for these cells, and the correct dose for each application, to prove effectiveness, and to evaluate safety and efficacy.
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