Regenerative medicine may be a preferable option when tendon and ligament injuries do not respond to conventional treatments such as physical therapy or corticosteroid injections.
Regenerative medicine, or regenerative injection therapy (RIT), also known as stem cell therapy, isn’t new, as the science dates back decades. However, it is only now coming to the forefront in sports and orthopedic medicine.
Studies have shown that this treatment can, in many cases, successfully reduce pain and restore function when all other options have been exhausted.
What Is Regenerative Medicine?
RIT involves injecting natural substances into damaged tendons, ligaments or other musculoskeletal tissues to stimulate the healing process. Most physicians offer two types of RIT: prolotherapy and platelet rich plasma.
With prolotherapy, also referred to as proliferation therapy, the injected substance is a highly concentrated glucose solution. The solution is an irritant that activates inflammatory signals in the body, which subsequently result in growth and healing in the damaged tissue.
Platelet rich plasma therapy also accelerates tissue repair and healing, but it does so with platelets from the patient’s own blood. To create the compound, the patient’s blood is drawn and then processed in a centrifuge to increase the concentration of platelets.
How Does Regenerative Medicine Help Tendon and Ligament Injuries?
Essentially, RIT gives injured musculoskeletal tissues a second chance at healing.
When tendons and ligaments are injured, the strain causes an inflammatory response in the body. This inflammation promotes new tissue growth to restore the damaged tissue — or at least that’s what’s supposed to happen during the healing process.
However, because tendons and ligaments have a poor blood supply where they connect to the bones, they often do not heal easily. For that reason, patients do not heal completely in many cases.
Prolotherapy and platelet rich plasma work by re-triggering the body’s natural healing mechanisms. The damaged tissue goes through the same healing process as it did when the injury first occurred, giving it another opportunity at damage repair.
Are You a Candidate for Regenerative Medicine?
Prolotherapy and platelet rich plasma injections can be administered in tendons and ligaments anywhere in the body. The procedure is minimally invasive and quite safe for most patients. Depending upon the extent of the injury, several injections may be necessary to achieve the desired results.
To determine if you are a candidate, your orthopedic surgeon will perform a physical evaluation of the injured area. Imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or MRI, also may be ordered to provide a clearer picture of the damage and degeneration.
To learn more about this revolutionary method of orthopedic treatment, contact the Steward Health Care: Centers of Orthopedic & Sports Medicine. We serve patients throughout the entire Salt Lake City area and the surrounding communities.
Our doctors are experts in orthopedic injury and sports medicine. Contact us at Steward Health Care today to learn more about how regenerative medicine may be able to help you.