What is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine generally refers to a medical treatment which regenerates human cells or tissues to restore or establish normal function. Regenerative medicine has recently become a more frequent and integral part of treatment for musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis, tendinopathies, and enthesopathies. The most frequently used regenerative medicine procedure in musculoskeletal medicine is PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection. PRP is an autologous procedure meaning the donor and recipient are the same individual. Therefore, there is no risk of disease transmission.
Frequently treated conditions include plantar fasciitis (heel spur syndrome), internal disc disruption (painful disc), tennis or golfer’s elbow (lateral/medial epicondylitis), and osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease including the hip, knee, shoulder).
What is a PRP Injection Pain Therapy (Platelet-Rich Plasma Injection)?
PRP is obtained by drawing up one’s blood through a vein similar to when giving blood for laboratory testing. The blood is then placed into a special instrument or centrifuge and separated into several components. The PRP is withdrawn and injected into the target tissue usually with some type of image guidance such as ultrasound or fluoroscopy. The PRP induces a healing reaction and inflammatory response, which may temporarily increase one’s pain for usually no more than 1-2 weeks. So that the healing response is not blunted, the patient must avoid anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen for a short duration both before and after the injection. The PRP can be given alone or mixed with other regenerative tissues or chemicals in an effort to maximize the healing response. You may learn more about PRP platlet-rich-plasma therapy by reading one of our earlier articles.
Splinting or other assistive devices may be recommended to minimize stresses on the treated body part. Lower extremity injuries may require modified weight bearing status with gait aides such as crutches.
How Does This Differ From a Corticosteroid (Steroid) Injection?
In contrast to corticosteroid (steroid) injections, the regenerative medicine injections, such as PRP injection pain therapy, induce a healing response which will take weeks-to-months to occur with the intended benefits of decreased pain and increased function. With steroid injections, the goal is immediate decrease in inflammation and pain. However, despite the short-term benefits of steroids, the negative long-term consequences of steroids can include further cartilage degeneration, tendon damage with possible rupture, and progression of the underlying condition. Therefore, there is a philosophical shift with the use of regenerative medicine to minimize or reverse the course of the medical condition as opposed to the immediate reduction in inflammation and pain with its undesired longer term adverse effects.
If you live or you are visiting the Lehigh Valley region, including Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton areas and you are suffering from a painful or disabling neurologic or musculoskeletal condition, the medical providers at NERA Spine, Sports & Pain Medicine may be able to help. Please consider making an appointment by calling (610) 954-9400 or schedule a doctor’s visit Online.