What is Regenerative Medicine?
Our medical field undergoes advances every now and then to help physicians offer better care for their patients. Among those advances, regenerative therapy is the major one.
The regenerative treatment uses various techniques to help the patient’s body repair its own tissues. It is a revolutionary field; however, physicians believe that its prospects are endless. Hence, let us understand this area in detail.
What is regenerative medicine?
As mentioned already, regenerative medicine helps in healing your body naturally by itself using your own regenerative cells. Hence, you will not experience any adverse side effects, unlike medications, steroid injections, and surgery.
Medications and steroid injections can provide relief from symptoms. However, they are not recommended for a longer duration.
Prolonged use of medications can cause gastrointestinal issues, kidney damage, and cardiovascular problems. Steroids can weaken the area around the injection zone.
Surgery has got adverse side effects. Moreover, it has got a prolonged painful post-rehabilitation period.
Compared to all the above-mentioned conventional treatments, regenerative medicine provides long-lasting relief from symptoms.
Regeneration occurs at three levels:
- Molecular level including small building blocks of the body such as DNA, carbohydrates, fats, etc.
- Cellular level including axons or neurons responsible for growth and reproduction.
- Tissue levels include skin, blood, muscle, tendon, bone, etc.
What are the types of regenerative medicine?
There are four types of regenerative medicine such as:
- Stem cell therapy
- Platelet-rich plasma therapy
- Cartilage regeneration
1. Stem cell therapy
Stem cell therapy is a type of regenerative medicine that utilizes your own stem cells to heal all types of injuries. Stem cells have a unique ability to develop into any type of cell to do the necessary function.
Hence, the physicians use stem cells for this type of treatment. Stem cells are extracted from the patient’s bone marrow, blood, or fat region. These cells are then centrifuged to separate into varied segments to use for this therapy.
After centrifuging these cells, they are again injected into the affected portion that requires a repair. After injection, they will then repair and develop into healthy cells.
2. Cartilage regeneration
This type of regenerative medicine deals with repairing the damaged cartilage. Usually, cartilage does not repair on its own due to the absence of blood vessels and a constant supply of blood.
This is where the cartilage regenerative technique helps. According to the cartilage regeneration studies from Johns Hopkins Medicine, this treatment works for people under 55 years old.
3. Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy
PRP therapy is used in orthopedic injuries and sports medicine to heal tendon injuries. In this treatment, plasma rich in platelets is used instead of stem cells.
The therapist draws blood from the patient and processes it with the help of a centrifuge. With the help of centrifugation, you get a concentrated solution rich in plasma and platelets. In the next step, inject this PRP into the affected region.
Prolotherapy is a type of regenerative medicine used to treat the affected joints and connective tissues including whiplash, degenerative disc problem, and whiplash. You can also use this treatment on the hip, shoulder, back, knee, hand, and neck.
In this treatment, inject a watery solution that has dextrose and saline into the affected portion. This solution also contains a numbing agent named lidocaine.
This injection works on the affected site by triggering your body’s natural healing mechanism. Thus, your body will restore new connective fibers to heal the damaged tissues.
Is there any scientific research that can prove the efficacy of regenerative medicine?
Yes. There is much research evidence that can substantially prove the positive effect of regenerative treatment.
A 2015 review article in the PNAS USA proceedings reported that since the commencement of this regenerative medicine several decades ago, a number of regenerative medicine therapies, including those designed for wound healing and other orthopedics injuries, have got Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consent and are now commercially offered.
A 2021 systematic review article published in the International Journal of Clinical Rheumatology reported that the PRP injections are more effective in patients with shoulder tendinopathy when compared with dry needling, steroid injections, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), hyaluronic acid injections, and physiotherapy.
Another 2021 systematic review article published in the International Journal of Clinical Case Reports and Reviews reported that the bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) and adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (AD-MSC) injections proved to be safer and effective in patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Not only the single dose of regenerative treatment but also its combination with other alternative therapies prove to be more effective. Here is the research evidence.
A 2021 case report published in the International Journal of Clinical Rheumatology revealed that PRP injections in combination with physical therapy can be very effective in treating rotator cuff tendinopathy. There will be a significant improvement in pain, discomfort, and overall function.
What are the conditions that can be treated by regenerative medicine?
Regenerative medicine has the ability to heal or restore tissues damaged by disease, trauma, or age. It can treat various orthopedic conditions such as:
- Herniated discs
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Shoulder impingement
- Frozen shoulder
- Tennis elbow and Golfer’s elbow
- Plantar fasciitis
- Ligament tear
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tendon tear
- Disc degeneration
- Rotator cuff / labrum tear
- Meniscus tear
- Pain treatment
- Trigger thumb/finger
- De Quervain’s tenosynovitis
- Radial tenosynovitis
- Hair loss treatment
- Facial treatment / wrinkle treatment / anti-aging treatment
What is the cost of regenerative treatment?
The cost of every type of regenerative therapy may vary from location to location. It depends on various factors such as:
- Location of the clinic
- Admission fee, especially in the case of stem cell therapy
- Type of the hospital and its infrastructure
- Therapist fee according to his/her experience
- Pre- and post- consultations
- Any other examinations/lab tests required
- Age of the patient
- Anesthesia cost (general/local)
- Anesthetist cost
On average, the cost of a single session of every type of regenerative medicine is listed below:
- PRP therapy - $500 to $2000
- Prolotherapy - $100 to $500
- Stem cell therapy (Bone marrow) - $2,000 to $5,000 or more
However, patients require more than one treatment session depending on the severity of the injury. Your physician will let you know the required number of sessions during the direct consultation.
What are the benefits of regenerative therapy?
The benefits of regenerative therapy include:
- Natural treatment
- Minimally invasive and painless procedure
- As this procedure uses your own regenerative cells, there is no risk of adverse side effects
- Quick recovery
- Significant improvement in outcomes within 2-3 weeks after undergoing regenerative treatment
- Very minimal or no downtime
- No prolonged hospital stays
- Its regenerative property can accelerate the healing of injuries
- The best alternative to surgery
- May prevent the use of long-term painkillers or cortisone shots
What are the potential side effects and risks of using the regenerative treatment?
There is no research study that reports any adverse side effects of regenerative cell treatment.
Regenerative treatment is a personalized therapy where every patient responds in a varied manner. Anyhow, the chance of any complication is too rare after undergoing this treatment.
Initially, the patient may experience slight pain or swelling. However, these symptoms will resolve on their own within a week.
Just a small bandage or dressing is given at the injection site until it gets completely healed.
Moreover, if you experience any of the following issues from the injection site after undergoing regenerative treatment, feel free to contact your physician right away.
- Excess pain
- Fever or chills
Are there any alternative treatments you can undergo along with regenerative therapies?
Yes. In order to accelerate the healing process, reduce complications, and improve quality of life, your physician will recommend alternative treatments along with regenerative medicine. These include:
- Physical therapy such as straightening and strengthening exercises
- Yoga, tai chi, or other breathing exercises
- Meditation and mindfulness training
- Natural supplements
What is the future of Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine can successfully alleviate age-related chronic health problems. Currently, the following five trends can assure the consistent development of regenerative medicine.
- There will be a spike in final-stage clinical trials on regenerative medicine. Moreover, you can find an increase in the number of approved treatments.
- We will observe a shift towards standardized and scalable regenerative treatment approaches from highly personalized and expensive therapies.
- There will be a huge rise in mergers and acquisitions in this revolutionary field.
- We will come across a better hike in distribution and supply chain technologies to include more novel treatment modalities.
- Regenerative medicine will get more coverage with coding and reimbursement models to improve its value.
Furthermore, research studies revealed that regenerative medicine includes the concept of vibration science and energy medicine related to physiology for in-depth knowledge of the cellular process focused on natural healing.
Hence, this new field can unlock new prospects in tissue engineering. This deeper understanding of natural healing mechanisms through tissue regeneration can be used for novel treatments that include tissue engineering and vibrational science.
The major focus of these revolutionary treatments is to mimic the inherent natural process of healing the injured parts, cell division, and cell maturation to perfection.
Didn’t you experience any improvement in functions due to injuries, trauma, aging, or degenerative conditions? Have you tried all conventional treatments including rest, physical therapy, medications, or steroid injections? Does your physician recommend surgery as the only last alternative?
Try regenerative treatment before opting for surgery. Regenerative treatment, unlike other treatments, can rejuvenate your natural healing mechanism to heal the injuries and regenerate the healthy cells.
Hence, you won’t experience any adverse side effects and there will be a significant improvement in your functions within 2-3 weeks after undergoing a regenerative treatment.