Pain is a part of everyday life. We can generally handle things like bruises, muscle soreness, scrapes, and many more. But the pain that persists in the joints or muscles for over six months is no longer normal; this is called chronic pain. Chronic pain limits our mobility and ability to do basic tasks and is often a sign of an oncoming degenerative disease.
As you may already know, the common procedures for treating this condition include cortisone injections and, in severe cases, replacement surgery. Although these methods have proven to help alleviate the symptoms and restore some level of functionality in the affected areas, they are not long-term solutions. With continued use, they also pose some risks of infection, tissue damage, and further complications. And in the case of surgery, they can be costly.
But if you’re suffering from chronic pain, there’s good news; alternative health treatments have been growing in recent years. These are less risky, have longer-lasting effects, and are more affordable. One treatment, in particular, has changed the field of pain management––and it’s called regenerative medicine.
Regenerative medicine is the practice of using our bodies’ natural biological processes to stimulate the healing and regrowth of cells, organs, and tissues that have been damaged by degenerative disease. Unlike invasive medications and surgery, regenerative medicine targets the root causes of the pain, providing longer-lasting pain relief and improving the body’s functionality.
Let’s go over the different types of regenerative medicine procedures commonly used today.
Stem cell therapy is a procedure that injects special cells into the damaged muscles and joints to initiate natural healing and repair. Think of stem cells like “baby” cells. Our cells are all specialized to serve a specific function. Stem cells are those cells that have yet to specialize, meaning they can take on different roles depending on where they are placed in the body.
At peak health, our joints and muscles normally have a sufficient supply of these stem cells to make the necessary repairs for when damage occurs. But as our bodies decline with age, stem cell production decreases, increasing the risks of arthritis, injuries, and pain.
Fortunately, there are other places where the needed stem cells can be found. There are two main types of stem cell transplants, based on where the cells were taken from; autologous and allogeneic. Let’s get to know them both.
Autologous transplants use mesenchymal cells extracted from the patient’s own body, particularly in the fat tissues and the bone marrow. These are adult stem cells that the body naturally uses to repair itself. With autologous transplants, there is no risk of the stem cells being rejected by the immune system. However, since they come from the patient, the cells are not as robust as those from a younger and healthier donor, and the healing response may not be as strong.
Allogeneic transplants use stem cells from the umbilical cords donated by healthy, screened, and tested mothers who have recently given birth. The umbilical cords are especially rich sources of mesenchymal stem cells. Though allogeneic transplants run the risk of being rejected, these risks can be minimized by sourcing donations from the patient’s close relatives or using “primitive” cells from the Wharton’s Jelly tissue in the umbilical cord. These younger stem cells are stronger and more effective at tissue regeneration.
While Stem Cell therapy uses mesenchymal cells, Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy uses platelets as the healing mechanism. Platelets are cell fragments found in our blood that release growth factors. During the PRP therapy procedure, blood is extracted from the patient and placed in a centrifuge to isolate the platelets. The concentrated PRP solution is then injected into the affected areas to jumpstart the healing process.
Many clinics offer PRP therapy, but they are not all of the same quality. Successful PRP therapies depend on three crucial factors––platelet concentration, the accuracy of distribution, and the condition to be treated.
PRP Concentration Level: The more concentrated the PRP solution is, the better the results. The ideal PRP solution is at least 7 to 8 times more concentrated than what is found in our blood.
Accuracy of Distribution: To maximize the regenerative properties of the PRP solution, it should be administered precisely to the affected areas. Using ultrasound imaging ensures proper delivery.
Condition to be Treated: Not all chronic pain is the same. PRP or stem cell therapy may work better than the other, depending on the cause of the pain and the affected area.
To know which regenerative medicine treatment is best suited to your needs, you first need to undergo a comprehensive medical assessment. And there’s no one more qualified than our very own Dr. Beyer. With over 25 years of experience, he is an expert in all the applications and developments in regenerative medicine. Take the first step on your path to recovery with Beyer Functional Wellness.