Regenerative medicine is experiencing an exciting period of development. Rather than aiming for direct treatment of diseases and ailments, regenerative treatments seek to assist your body’s natural healing abilities, resulting in natural pain relief and faster, more efficient repair of body systems.
Stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy are two such regenerative strategies, delivered through a technique called prolotherapy, short for proliferative therapy. There’s not a single standard formulation for prolotherapy. It can include stem cells, PRP, or other substances that can promote faster healing and tissue regeneration.
If you’re faced with a degenerative condition such as osteoarthritis, both stem cell and PRP prolotherapy could contribute to less pain and better joint mobility. Dr. John Regan of Spine Group Beverly Hills can help advise you about the advantages and drawbacks of these regenerative treatments.
Both stem cell and PRP techniques have the advantage of being drug-free, allergy-free, nonsurgical approaches to treatment. Each can be delivered in an autologous manner, meaning that either stem cells or PRP is derived from tissue in your own body. Stem cells can be harvested from bone marrow or adipose (fat) tissue, while PRP is a concentration of platelets derived from your own blood sample.
One reason for the popularity of these approaches is that there’s a positive risk/benefit ratio. Virtually the only side effects from these treatments is a risk of infection around sampling and injection sites. This is the same risk you’d experience when having an allergy shot, vaccination, or blood sample taken.
While healing results vary between patients, gains from these treatments come with little chance of downside. Cortisone shots, another injectable treatment for joint pain, have limited use because the pain relief benefits come at the cost of further tissue deterioration.
Stem cell therapy and PRP are often used together, based on the premise that they’re complementary. The fundamental mechanisms of both therapies aren’t fully understood by medical science yet, but since the results are measurable and risks are minimal, both receive acceptance as effective treatments.
Of the two, PRP is perhaps the more conservative treatment, with easier preparation and administration when compared with other injectable treatments for joint pain. Study on preparation, composition, and injection protocols continues, and while PRP doesn’t offer a cure for degenerative joint diseases, there is evidence that it can slow their progress while reducing pain.
Stem cell therapy is an equally valid treatment option, offering many of the same potential benefits as PRP. There are different types of stem cells, each with their own applications, but in some cases study lags behind PRP, such as with osteoarthritis of the knee, for example.
The best option for you may depend on the precise conditions behind your joint pain. PRP is used by many world-class athletes to speed recovery, and is often used after surgical procedures for the same reason. Stem cells are still developing as a treatment as more becomes known about the mechanics of healing.
Dr. Regan and the team at Spine Group Beverly Hills can advise you of your choices and chances for experiencing improvements, no matter what prolotherapy combination you choose. Call or click to book your consultation today.