Regenerative medicine is a specialty concerned with replacing, engineering, or regenerating human cells, tissues, or organs to restore or establish normal function. One of the most effective methods in regenerative medicine uses biologics, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cells, to stimulate repair and regeneration of injured, diseased, or degenerated tissues.
Biologics work by harnessing the body’s ability to heal itself – using its own cells to stimulate healing of an injured area and facilitate faster recovery. Biologic and regenerative therapies can treat many common orthopedic conditions, including sports injuries in the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and ankle, ligament and tendon injuries, and degenerative joint conditions such as osteoarthritis. Biologics can also be used during or around the time of surgical procedures to augment the body’s own restorative capabilities and to accelerate healing for better outcomes.
Performance Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine: A Leader in Regenerative Medicine
At Performance Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, we’re dedicated to providing the best care and outcomes for our patients. As such, we are proud to be at the forefront of this exciting, innovative field of medicine.
Regenerative medicine treatments can resolve ailments with less pain and a faster recovery than surgery – and typically only require a single injection to be successful. For patients where surgery is needed, biologics and regenerative medicine treatments may accelerate healing and improve the overall regeneration of injured and damaged tissues.
Let's explore more about these advanced treatments.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
Although blood is primarily a liquid, it also contains other cellular components, including white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets that are suspended within fluid called plasma. Platelets are best known for their ability to clot blood, but they're also very rich in proteins called growth factors that stimulate healing and initiate tissue repair. Platelets are made in the bone marrow and freely move through the bloodstream.
When injury occurs, platelets become activated, migrate to the injury site, and release their growth factors. These growth factors that are derived from platelet-rich plasma (PRP) have the power to stimulate the wound-healing process, develop new blood vessels, and to regenerate bones.
How PRP Treatment Works
PRP is a safe and clinically accepted procedure. Its use varies depending on the procedure, but PRP is generally applied to a bone or soft tissue injury site, where it accelerates tissue regeneration. Clinical studies have shown that PRP therapy can effectively minimize pain and optimize healing, while reducing the bleeding and other risks associated with invasive surgery.
PRP injections are performed in our office. The simple process involves drawing a single sample of the patient’s blood, which is then spun in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets and separate them from other blood cells and plasma. The concentrated platelets are then combined with the remaining plasma and reinjected into the affected area, triggering the more rapid and more effective healing process.
Adult Stem Cells
When an organism grows, stem cells specialize and take on specific functions. For example, there are different cell types for different tissues such as skin, muscle, or bone. Because stem cells are not yet differentiated, they can divide and differentiate to become specialized cells. Damaged cells in the human body may also be replaced by stem cells.
Stem cells are found in almost every type of organ in the body, but over time the cells that make up our tissues can lose their optimal function due to age, injury, and disease. As a result, injured or damaged tissues may not heal normally or may take a long time to heal. Fortunately, each person is born with these stem-cell building blocks capable of repairing and replenishing tissue. Stem cell therapy is a means of utilizing the body’s own stem cells to promote tissue healing in an affected area, or supplementing our body’s stem cells to help them achieve their normal functions.
Orthopedic Conditions Treated With Stem Cells
Stem cells used in orthopedic applications are found in adipose tissue, bone marrow, or donated placentas. They are effective at treating the following:
- Hip Pain: Osteoarthritis, hip labrum tears, sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction, piriformis syndrome, greater trochanteric bursitis, iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome
- Shoulder Pain: Osteoarthritis, tendinopathy, rotator cuff tendonitis, partial tears, labrum tear, bicipital tendonitis
- Knee Pain: Osteoarthritis, meniscus tears, tendon injuries, ligament sprains or tears
- Elbow Injuries: Tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow
- Wrist/Hand Pain: Osteoarthritis, De Quervain's tenosynovitis
- Ankle and Foot Pain: Achilles tendonitis or partial tears, plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains/ligament injury
- Spine Conditions: Facet joint arthropathy, SI joint dysfunction
Adipose Stem Cells
Adipose, or simply fat tissue, is advantageous as a stem cell source because it is minimally invasive to collect, contains an abundance of MSC-type stem cells (mesenchymal stem cells that are now considered to be most effective for treating many conditions), and most people have a great deal of fat cells. Fat has 100 to 500 times more reparative cells than other similar tissue. As people age, the number of MSCs decreases in some of their tissues, but not in fat cells. Adipose tissue contains a rich network of healing proteins (growth factors), and supporting cells called cytokines and pericytes.
Lipogems is a single-use, FDA-cleared device for harvesting, processing, and injecting fat tissue. The FDA cleared the system for clinical use in 2014 as a way to inject micro-fragmented fat to repair injured or damaged tissue, as well as provide cushion and structural tissue support. Lipogems uses a closed-loop, disposable system to wash, rinse, and resize autologous adipose tissue for same-day injection. The Lipogems system prevents further degeneration by using stem cells to provide support to damaged tissues and joints.
Bone Marrow Stem Cells
While similar to PRP in its ability to harness the body's ability to heal itself through the aid of growth factors, BMC (Bone Marrow Concentrate) therapy also utilizes a group of regenerative cells that are contained within the patient's bone marrow. Bone marrow is the semi-solid tissue in the spongy portions of your bones. In large bones, it is where red and white blood cells, as well as plasma components, are produced. Immature forms of these cells – called stem cells – are found in marrow. BMC therapy, also known as Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) therapy, is a promising nonsurgical regenerative therapy to help accelerate healing in various orthopedic injuries, including moderate to severe osteoarthritis and tendon injuries.
Your marrow is a source of stem cells that can be drawn from your hip bone for use in the procedure. Unlike other cells of the body, stem cells are "undifferentiated," meaning they can replicate themselves into various types of tissue.
During BMC therapy, the doctor removes a small amount of your bone marrow, which is spun in a centrifuge to create a powerful concentrate of cells. The stem cells are then injected into the injured area to initiate the healing process. Previously, these types of cells were both difficult and expensive to obtain. However, with more recent advanced technology, bone marrow stem cells are more easily obtained, and the procedure can be performed simply in your doctor’s office with minimal discomfort and no significant recovery downtime.
Amniotic Stem Cells
Human amniotic membrane is a type of allograft that is used to enhance healing of soft tissue injuries. The allograft is derived from cleaned, sterilized, cryopreserved, or dehydrated amniotic tissue. Through the cryopreservation process, the important bioactivity of amniotic tissue is maintained. Human amniotic tissue contains vital quantities of growth factors, cytokines, and hyaluronic acid. The function of this amniotic cell concentrate, which has antimicrobial properties, is to reduce inflammation, provide lubrication, and aid in healing. From sports injuries to arthritis, human amniotic tissue is a safe and effective alternative to cortisone, PRP, and surgery, with a short recovery time.
Regenerative Medicine Expertise in Atlanta
If you need advanced healing options for your recovery, you've come to the right place. Performance Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine offers cutting-edge treatments in regenerative medicine. Call us today at (404) 973-2444 for more information, or request an appointment using our online form.