Medical breakthroughs are changing the way doctors are able to treat pain, injury, and disease. One of the most important new therapies in use intelligently triggers the body to rebuild injured tissue using its own latent restoration powers. The techniques of this “regenerative medicine” can solve many painful issues without invasive surgery. Right Path Pain & Spine Center in Davenport, FL can return you to living free from pain and pain medication.
Regenerative Medicine 101
Our bodies have remarkable capacities for self-healing. We see evidence of it every day, from a shaving nick that quickly scabs over to a broken bone that knits itself inside a cast. The body is not only designed to protect itself from disease by way of its immune system, but it’s also designed to repair its own damages using an incredibly sophisticated network of microscopic healing agents.
The core idea behind these regenerative medical techniques is to strategically aim these restoring agents directly toward an injured or compromised area so that worn or damaged tissue can be “rebuilt’ with fresh new tissue. For many painful conditions, regenerative medicine is a revolutionary option that is fast becoming a new standard of care.
An Alternative to Surgery
There are many painful conditions that until today could only be corrected by surgical procedures. For many of these conditions, particularly those involving the back and spine, the prospect of surgery is daunting. Recovery time from back surgery is significant, and the procedures carry significant risk. Many people live with back pain because they’ve decided that back surgery isn’t for them.
In the case of other painful conditions, some maladies really have no way of being “cured” through surgery. One example is osteoarthritis, a very common disease where the protective cartilage in body joints becomes worn down with age. As the cartilage wears down, it offers less cushioning, and movement in the affected joint becomes painful. Since there’s no surgical cure for the worn cartilage, people who suffer from this arthritic pain usually turn to medications for relief. Pain medications can negatively affect healthy bodily functions and can even become addictive. They are rarely a good ongoing option for dealing with pain.
What Can Be Treated?
Regenerative medicine’s ability to replace worn or damaged tissue with fresh, healthy tissue has found favor in a wide circle of medical applications. Everything from sports injuries to acne treatment, hair loss, and cosmetic enhancement has found a successful medical answer with regenerative techniques.
When it comes to pain relief and rebuilding internal damages to the body, regenerative therapies are most often seen in the joints and the back. In some cases, the therapy is called for because of an acute injury to the joint, such as a tear in the rotator cuff of the shoulder. In other cases, the therapy is applied to a chronic condition, such as the various forms of arthritis. In particular, back pains from damaged spinal discs or lumbar problems are prime candidates for regenerative therapy.
What Kind of Therapies Are There?
Regenerative medicine is an umbrella term that includes a variety of therapeutic techniques. The key technologies include:
The concept behind prolotherapy is to inject a mild irritant into damaged tissues so that the body sends healing agents to the area in order to fix it. The “irritant” itself is little more than sugar water (glucose), which in and of itself is harmless. However, the pH of the glucose is different enough from the surrounding tissue to create minor inflammation. This artificially-induced “damage” attracts antibodies and healing agents to the site, which then begin the process of building new tissue.
Prolotherapy is one of the most time-tested regenerative therapies; some date its use all the way back to antiquity. In modern times, the technique was first popularized in the US in the 1930s when a surgeon with a damaged thumb ligament was able to heal himself and resume his career, even though his condition was thought to be inoperable. Many patients can enjoy similar rejuvenating results from this therapy.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy
PRP therapy can be called a more advanced version of prolotherapy. However, instead of glucose being introduced into the damaged tissue, a nutrient-rich concoction of healing agents collected from the patient’s own blood is injected into the trouble site. From there, these agents not only start to heal and rebuild damaged tissue, but they also summon other bodily healing agents to join them.
Platelets are important blood cells that protect and heal damaged tissue through tiny sticky tentacles. These catch more platelets and attract more healing agents. To obtain the PRP, the doctor draws a small amount of your blood. The platelets are then separated in a centrifuge, mixed back with the blood’s liquid component (plasma), and injected into the body at the trouble spot. The PRP process can be described as an injection of supercharged healing agents, harvested from your own body. Learn more about this treatment at PRP Orlando clinic
This is another form of regenerative therapy that uses “source material” from our body’s fat, rather than from blood platelets. There are two good reasons why this technique has enjoyed success. The first is that body fat is easy to “harvest” for re-injection; obtaining the healing agents is easy and minimally intrusive. More importantly, clinical research shows that fat tissues are especially rich in healing agents, containing as much as five times more than other body tissues.
The patient experience for Lipogem therapy is similar to a PRP treatment, except that fat is drawn rather than blood. Using a local anesthetic, the doctor uses a minimally-invasive technique to remove a small sample of body fat, usually from the abdomen. As with PRP, the substance is specially purified and then injected into the damaged area of the body. Because fat tissue is not easily re-absorbed by the body, the effects of the restorative treatment can be long-lasting.
Stem Cell Therapy
The most ambitious form of regenerative medicine uses stem cells – the building blocks of our bodies – to create new specific cells that the doctor actually “assigns” to the task. Stem cells are with us even before we are born. They are designed to multiply by dividing themselves. Each new division makes more new cells, which also divide and make new cells, and so on.
When a stem cell regeneration divides, the new division can turn into virtually any type of cell the body needs. Therefore, with stem cells, it is possible not only to grow new tissue but new specific tissues. Imagine being able to control the body to build stronger new ligaments or sturdier new tendons. This is the goal of stem cell therapy.
The process of obtaining stem cells is more involved than the other regenerative techniques. Most often, the stem cells are harvested from the patient’s bone marrow. This ensures the least potential for rejection of the stem cells because the treatment is autologous – the healing substances come from the patient’s own body. However, stem cells may also be harvested from another donor besides the patient, and even grown in the laboratory.
Does It Work?
The main idea behind regenerative medicine – using the body to heal itself – is one of the oldest in all of medicine. The father of western medicine, Hippocrates, is said to have cured a patient’s dislocated shoulder with a crude version as early as 400 BC. Medical advances of the past several decades, including the discovery of stem cells in the late 1970s, have vaulted this avenue of medicine into widespread use.
The success record for regenerative therapies is visible in all of today’s headlines and seen on millions of TV screens. What sports fan hasn’t heard of a star player recovering at record speed from an elbow or shoulder injury thanks to PRP therapy? How many of our favorite movie stars owe their glamourous faces to regenerative therapies for skin conditioning?
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Many pains and ailments, whether due to an acute injury or the result of a chronic condition, can be addressed and even cured by regenerative therapies. In many cases, these therapies represent new hope for people that live with pain that can’t be solved by other medical treatments. They also provide new possibilities to patients that are not generally considered good candidates for surgical treatments, such as the elderly.
Virtually anyone can benefit from regenerative therapies. The process is considered very safe because the source agents for regeneration either come from the patient’s own body (blood, fat, marrow) or are essentially harmless, such as the glucose involved in prolotherapy. Many patients who would otherwise forego medical treatment for their pain because of the risk and expense of surgery now have access to less invasive options that can be even more effective.
How Long Does It Take?
The time needed for the actual treatment session depends on the technique used and the size of the area that needs treatment. In most cases, this is relatively brief and done on an outpatient basis. For example, a single PRP session takes less than an hour, with much of that time spent waiting for the centrifuge to separate the blood. Lipogem therapy is similarly convenient, as are prolotherapy sessions. Most maladies take several sessions to achieve maximum healing results.
Once the therapy has been applied, many patients report feeling positive changes within days. However, it is important to remember that regenerative therapies take time; after all, the body is literally rebuilding itself. The fullest results are usually attained within 2-4 months of the treatment. The benefits of the treatment are long-lasting and often virtually permanent.
Why Regenerative Therapy for Pain?
Historically speaking, the medical approach to pain has always been reactive. The patient feels pain, and so they take something to ease the hurt. The effects of medications are temporary of course, and sustained use of pain medicines can have negative effects on key bodily functions and wellness markers such as sleep, elimination, and mood.
Mood, in fact, may be the most important of this group. When pain becomes a part of daily life, it’s difficult to sustain a positive outlook and happy relations with family, work, and friends. Chronic pain is a known cause of clinical depression, which is often treated with even more medications. As we all well know from the headlines, medications can be highly addictive. Medication should be a last resort for pain, not the first.
How Can I Get Started?
If you’ve been suffering from pain in the joints, your back, or neck, a world of new possibilities has been opened for you by regenerative therapies. The treatments are safer than invasive surgery, with virtually no downtime for recovery. The results in solving common pain issues are well-proven worldwide, and in many cases, represent the safest and most effective medical option for correcting the source of the pain.
To find out how regenerative therapies can solve your own pain issues, call us at Right Path Pain & Spine Center, in Davenport FL today for a consultation.