Regenerative medicine has a lot of buzz around it, but few people actually know what regenerative therapies entail and how these might be used. Maybe you’ve become curious about the potential of regenerative therapy to help you with your own medical needs, or you’ve just heard about athletes who have undergone regenerative therapies and want to know what the fuss is all about. At the Spine Institute Northwest, we’re excited about the promise of regenerative medicine for treating a range of conditions, and we use several kinds of regenerative therapy in conjunction with minimally invasive spine surgery and other treatments.
The term regenerative therapy refers broadly to several different types of procedures. What these have in common is the transplantation of new, healthy tissue to the site of injury or damage to encourage natural regrowth and healing. At its widest scope, regenerative medicine includes familiar treatments like organ transplants as well as newer therapies like stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma.
Different types of regenerative therapy have been in use for decades. In addition to organ and bone marrow transplants, skin and tissue grafts have been in use for many years and have historically been very successful. With newer therapies that use the patient’s own cells—for example, platelet-rich plasma therapy, which uses a concentrate of the patient’s own blood—the risk of rejection or of an adverse reaction is especially low.
Many of the newest and most promising forms of regenerative therapy use adult stem cells. These cells are able to self-differentiate into the type of cell that is found where the stem cells are implanted. For example, when faced with an injury to a part of the body where self-healing is difficult—like in the cartilage of the knee or in the spinal joints—stem cell doctors may be able to repair or replace the damaged cells. Depending on the type of injury and illness, this kind of procedure is sometimes performed using the patient’s own (autologous) stem cells; in other cases, stem cells come from adult donors. Stem cells exist throughout your body; the stem cells used for regenerative therapies often come from adipose (fat) tissue.
Regenerative medicine is a new frontier that offers promise for the treatment of numerous conditions. At the Spine Institute Northwest, we have treated patients who come to us for laser spine surgery with stem cell injections at the surgery site, to encourage healing. Want to learn more about the treatments that we offer for chronic pain? Call the Spine Institute Northwest at 888-712-0318 and talk to one of our patient advocates.