Treating orthopedic conditions, including sports injuries and arthritis, with regenerative therapies such as Stem Cell Therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is becoming more mainstream.
Peyton Manning reportedly traveled to Europe in 2011 for stem-cell therapy to treat a neck injury while playing for the Colts (Manning has not publicly acknowledged this). Andrew Luck also reportedly received PRP and stem cell therapy in 2015 to treat a shoulder injury. The truth is, that stem cell therapy has been widely used by elite athletes for quite some time. Hundreds of NFL players have been treated with stem cell therapy as reported in Sports Illustrated. The magazine noted on how running back Chris Johnson was treated with stem cells from his bone marrow to rebuild his cartilage after a knee injury.
Stem cells are the regenerative cells responsible for repair and rebuilding of damaged tissue. We all have a reserve of stem cells in our bone marrow and as stem cells have regenerative power, when they are injected into an area that is damaged or worn, the stem cells can potentially speed up the natural healing process. For many patients, Stem Cell Therapy provides pain relief that can last for years. And in some soft tissue injuries, stem cell therapy can facilitate permanent repair. Stem Cell Therapy has been used to treat a variety of orthopedic conditions including soft tissue injuries, joint damage, knee arthritis and rotator cuff tears. The science behind Stem Cell Therapy is complicated, and still somewhat in “new frontier” territory, but the potential is enormous.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is a concentration of platelets and growth factors which is obtained from a small amount of your blood. Platelets play a critical role in healing injured tissue by activating stem cells. Increased levels of growth factors have the potential to improve signaling and recruitment of cells. PRP can help orthopedic conditions like arthritis, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, partial rotator cuff tears, sprains and strains. It also benefits people who are not candidates for surgery or want to avoid surgery due to age, health problems, or other concerns. Professional athletes who have tried PRP include Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry, Rafael Nadal and Tiger Woods.
So, is Stem Cell Therapy or PRP injection right for you?
The short answer is ……perhaps. High paid athletes have received Stem Cell Therapy and PRP for years and continue to do so, but they are HIGHLY PAID. For everyone else, the cost of treatment may be a hurdle. As of now, insurance does not cover either of these treatments (although the cost may be reimbursed if you have a health savings account). I’ve treated a steady stream of patients with Stem Cell Therapy and PRP and thus far, no one has reported that they regretted the investment that they made in their health. I will usually recommend standard, “tried and true” treatment options such as physical therapy, medications and possibly even surgery as the first treatment option for most orthopedic conditions. However, regenerative therapy offers an alternative to surgery and traditional pain management and can be an excellent adjunct to traditional treatment modalities. If this is of interest to you, know this, Stem Cell Therapy and PRP is no longer just for the professional athlete——-it’s available——here, to you.