Regenerative Medicine - The Future of Pain Management
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who deal with debilitating pain on a daily basis, you’re no doubt familiar with traditional pain management treatments. You also probably know that these methods have numerous shortcomings, from their high costs to their low efficiency.
What you may not know is there’s a better way.
Whether you’re experiencing chronic pain such as osteoarthritis, acute pain as the result of an injury, or pain following surgery, regenerative medicine may be the solution you’ve been looking for. Stem cell therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are non-surgical and minimally invasive and help you not just relieve pain, but address its underlying causes.
Stem Cell Therapy vs Other Pain Management Options
The best way to understand why stem cell therapy is a superior form of pain management is to stack it up against other commonly prescribed pain management methods:
Medication: The National Institutes of Health calls the misuse of and addiction to opioids, including prescription pain relievers, a “serious national crisis.” But risk of addiction is not the only drawback to medication for pain management. Side effects of opioids include constipation, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness or cloudy thinking, and inhibition of breathing signals coming from the brain. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause ulcers, stomach bleeding, or kidney damage if taken for long periods.
Stem cell therapy: Stem cell therapy and PRP address pain and inflammation by encouraging biological repair of the degenerated or injured area, not just masking the problem. We don’t use opioids at Philadelphia PRP and Stem Cell Institute, and your physician will explain why you should stop taking NSAIDs around the time of your injection.
Interventional pain management: This includes various forms of treatment including corticosteroidal injections, drug infusions, and nerve blocks. If used for more than three months, corticosteroids can cause osteoporosis, diabetes, weight gain, hypertension, cataracts and glaucoma, and more. Some newer studies actually suggest that corticosteroids can speed up cartilage damage after only one injection. Nerve blocks may only last for a matter of hours, and like other forms of interventional pain management, don’t treat the issue at a cellular level.
Stem cell therapy: Again, regenerative medicine is just that: regenerative. It doesn’t just inhibit pain signaling for a short term, it addresses the cause of pain by promoting new cell growth and biological healing.
Surgery: Fatigue, appetite loss, bleeding and blood clots, and even pain are common side effects of invasive surgery, not to mention the risks of any anesthesia, antibiotics, or blood thinners used during and after the operation. What’s more, surgery irrevocably changes your body’s internal structure, sometimes for the worse. Even arthroscopic surgery can carry complications, such as swelling, stiffness, and progression of cartilage damage.
Stem cell therapy: PRP and stem cell injections are minimally invasive and far less risky than surgery, as at most they involve local anesthetic and do not affect structural tissue. They’re also faster in both the application and the recovery than surgery. While full healing can take weeks or months, you’ll have far more mobility on a day-to-day basis after a stem cell treatment than you would after a knee replacement, for example.
Regenerative Medicine vs Surgery vs Pain Injections - A Comparison
|Stem Cell Therapy (BMC)||PRP||Traditional Surgery||Pain Injections|
|Hospital stay||Not required*||Not required*||Inpatient||Not required|
|Procedure||Minimally invasive||Minimally invasive||Invasive||Minimally invasive|
|Risk of infection||Minimal||Minimal||Yes||Minimal|
|Greater threat to at-risk patients (elderly, diabetic, overweight)||No||No||Yes||No|
|Loss of bone or tissue||No||No||Yes||No|
|Risk of new biomechanical problems post-treatment||No||No||Yes||No|
|Painkillers required post-treatment||No||No||Sometimes||No|
|Time to return to daily activities||1-2 days||1-2 days||2-3+ months||1-2 days|
|Full recovery period||4-12 weeks||4-12 weeks||A few weeks to several months||2-10 days|
|Addresses Underlying Biological Dysfunction||Partially||Partially||No||No|
*Most BMC and PRP procedures occur in a physician's office, but some patients may elect to have them done on an outpatient basis in a surgery center if they prefer non-local anesthesia.
Our Treatment Options to Relieve Pain
Philadelphia PRP and Stem Cell Institute offers two types of regenerative medicine procedures to relieve pain:
Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP)
Platelets from your own blood are concentrated and re-injected, supplying the damaged area with vital growth factors that promote cellular repair.
Stem Cell Therapy (BMC)
Adult mesenchymal stem cells harvested from your hip are re-injected into the problem area where they heal by encouraging new tissue growth and controlling inflammation.
How the Procedures Work
Stem Cell Therapy:
As you lie facedown on a table, the doctor extracts bone marrow aspirate from your hip with a special needle. You may experience mild discomfort but the majority of patients tolerate this easily.
To concentrate the adult stem cells and platelets in the marrow fluid into BMC, the aspirate is spun in a centrifuge for up to 15 minutes.
The doctor re-injects the stem cell-rich, concentrated BMC into the area of pain.
The doctor draws a blood sample from your arm, just like in a routine blood test.
The blood we’ve drawn is spun in a centrifuge to separate the growth factor-containing platelets from the other components in the plasma. The PRP is then removed.
With the PRP material prepared, it is injected into the damaged tissue, disc, joint, or tendon, using x-ray or ultrasound guidance, if necessary.
A platelet-rich plasma treatment will seem much like simply giving blood from your arm, except in this case the now-enhanced blood is re-injected at the end.
See How Regenerative Medicine Relieves Pain
What Conditions Can Stem Cell Therapy Manage Pain For?
Stem cell therapy can provide pain relief in a wide range of areas, including:
Ligament strains or tears*
Spine and back conditions: bulging, herniated, or collapsed disc, degenerative disc disease, facet joint pain, neck pain, annular tear*
Knee conditions: patellofemoral syndrome (“runner’s knee”), patellar tendonitis, torn meniscus*, ACL/PCL/LCL sprains and tears*
Elbow conditions: lateral epicondylitis (“tennis elbow”), medial epicondylitis (“golfer’s elbow”), medial epicondyle apophysitis (“pitcher’s elbow”), ulnar nerve entrapment, partial distal biceps tendon tear
Feet and ankle conditions: plantar fasciitis, bunions, Achilles tendonitis, tarsal tunnel syndrome
Hip conditions: osteonecrosis, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, tendon tear*, labral tear*
Hand and wrists conditions: triangular fibrocartilage complex (TFCC) tear*, carpal tunnel syndrome, De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, trigger finger, chronic thumb sprain
Shoulder conditions: rotator cuff tear* or tendonitis, recurrent shoulder dislocations, glenoid labrum tear or degeneration, impingement, biceps tendinosis
*Please note: some ligament and cartilage tears may be too extensive to heal completely with BMC injection alone. In those cases, we may recommend a combination of surgical intervention combined with BMC to achieve maximal healing.
Safe & Natural Procedures to Overcome Pain
Although some pain management doctors may claim their stem cell treatments are zero risk, this isn’t accurate. They are injections, and like all injections they involve a low risk of infection or bleeding.
However, PRP and adult mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) injections (which BMC utilizes) are autologous, which means they’re obtained from you and used by you. This reduces the risk of allergic reaction or rejection of the PRP or stem cells to virtually zero.
In addition, both types of therapies are minimally invasive and adhere to all relevant FDA guidelines. The BMC therapy we provide is an FDA-accepted part of the practice of medicine, because we only process and apply the cells you already have in your body. We produce PRP using 510(k) cleared medical devices, registered and fully compliant with FDA regulations.
Are You a Candidate?
Anyone who wants to avoid surgery and a lengthy recovery may rightly be interested in stem cell therapy. However, the effectiveness of the treatments may be influenced by a number of factors including the nature and severity of the injury, your age, your lifestyle, your medical history, and more.
To help determine if regenerative medicine might be right for you, consider the following questions:
Do you have moderate, chronic arthritis, joint pain, or any of the other conditions listed above?
Have physical therapy, rest, medications, or steroid injections failed to help your pain or mobility levels?
Does your pain limit you from performing your daily activities?
If you said “yes” to any of these, we invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation.