If you pay attention to sports news, you may have heard reports of athletes who have used regenerative therapy to deal with a lingering problem with an injury. These stories tend to focus more on the players than on the treatments, and you might be wondering what, exactly, regenerative therapy is. Is it something that might be useful to regular people with everyday health problems, and not just professional athletes?
Regenerative medicine refers to a set of therapies that rely on the use of adult stem cells or other kinds of tissue to help encourage the body’s natural healing response. In rejuvenative therapies, doctors will use adult stem cells (often from the patient’s own body) or substances like platelet-rich plasma, both of which can be injected at the site of injury to encourage healing. True regenerative therapies take this to the next level, using stem cells to encourage regrowth. Stem cells are the body’s “master cells”; they can take on different forms and then proliferate, allowing tissue like cartilage or bone to “grow back.” This ensures that the cells near the site of injury will have the specific capabilities needed to help with healing.
One reason that regenerative therapies often come up in the context of sports medicine is because these treatments tend to be especially useful for the kinds of injuries athletes often get. For example, football and soccer players experience injuries to the knee more frequently than non-athletes (though for the record, cartilage tears or lost cartilage in the knee are not uncommon among regular Canadians). Traditionally, the only non-invasive option for dealing with this kind of injury was rest or giving up the activity; knee replacement surgery remains as a much more invasive option. With regenerative therapies, however, we now have the possibility of using minimally invasive injections at the site of the injury to help encourage the repair of torn cartilage or even the regrowth of lost cartilage. That said, there is currently research being conducted on the use of regenerative medicine in many areas of healthcare, including dermatology, cardiology, and oncology.
Regenerative medicine is an especially new area of the medical field, and though it’s highly promising, it may be difficult to find practitioners in your area. At the Spine Institute Northwest, we have been using regenerative therapies like stem cell therapy in conjunction with minimally invasive laser spine surgery. Our goal is to help our patients get back their lives without the lengthy and difficult recovery process that is often the only option with traditional spine surgeries. To learn more about why so many Canadians travel to come see us in Washington, check out our video testimonials. Want to set up a consultation? Call the Spine Institute Northwest today at 888-712-0318.