What is regenerative medicine?
Your body is constantly focused on the repair, replacement and maintenance of your tissues. Nerves, bone, tendon, muscle, ligament and connective tissue need constant maintenance to function properly. Long-standing disease, injury or poor lifestyle can overwhelm your body’s natural repair mechanisms creating a degenerative cascade. At first micro-injuries can occur which go unnoticed. Overtime repeat injury, chronically injures the tissues, causing further limited healing, scar tissue and nerve sensitivity. Eventually the tissue damage can become severe enough to result in pain, sometimes for apparent reason. You should see a physician when the pain or injury begins to impact your daily or recreational activities.
If the tissue injury is not too great, conventional treatments such as rest and physical therapy can be very helpful. If you have exhausted these treatments or do not see significant improvement the suggestion is that the tissue has lost the ability to heal. Corticosteroid injections can be helpful in the short term or to further isolate the problem area. Corticosteroids work to decrease inflammation and pain but also delay tissue healing. Surgery can help repair severe injuries but it is focused on salvaging the remaining tissues. So there exists a void that regenerative medicine has begun to fill. These new regenerative treatments have been found to promote the healing process, giving tissues a second chance to heal. Different approaches are used, based on the type of tissue injury. These therapies are gaining popularity as emerging clinical experience and research validates their utility and superiority in tissue repair compared with conventional treatments.
Do you think regenerative medicine can help my medical condition?
We use an innovative systems-based regenerative medicine approach to diagnose and treat your condition. This contrasts markedly from the standard biomechanical approach that most physicians use. When you have an injury, it can become masked by adjacent injuries that occur in different tissues as you continue about with your daily activities. This causes an alteration in the local cellular microclimate, which not only impairs healing, but results in a widespread problem that can affect the nerves, muscles, joints, ligaments and blood vessels which can impact many aspects of your life. These types of injuries can be very frustrating for patients to describe and even more frustrating for physicians to treat. If you have not improved after a short trial of medication, chiropractic, physical therapy, or injection therapy, or if long-term improvement remains elusive, it is time to consider a systems-based regenerative medicine approach. Imaging tests such as x-rays and MRIs have a certain resolution, commonly about one millimeter. Resolution refers to the ability to differentiate two separate structures of a certain size. Anything smaller is invisible, even if it is the cause of your symptoms. Many patients get frustrated when the MRI or x-ray is normal or demonstrates pathology in other locations. Even with ultrasound technology, which has a higher resolution, problems can remain invisible. In these cases, specialized procedures are used to zero in on the root cause of your problem. Regenerative medicine has finally allowed physicians, for the first time, to enhance and restart the body’s natural repair system. By using your cells, we can direct your body to restart the healing process and heal tissues that have not healed even if they have been damaged for many years. With patience and persistence, systems-based regenerative medicine has made tremendous long-term impacts in our patient’s health.
What steps are involved in regenerative medicine techniques?
The first step in regenerating tissue is to correctly and accurately identify the source of the injury or pain. This can be a challenge as by the time the patient is seen in the office their body has accommodated to the pain resulting in regional biomechanical deterioration. Biomechanical deterioration places surrounding tissue at risk of injury as well as potentially creating several layers of painful tissues.
The first step is a comprehensive history and physical examination to clarify the challenges each patient faces. This may be accompanied by dynamic musculoskeletal ultrasound imaging or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine the status of the underlying tissues. A treatment plan is then decided upon based on review of all the data. Treatments can include:
Axofascial therapy involves the use of micro-injections to treat the small nerves within the superficial fascia that often endure chronic nerve compression due to poor posture or biomechanics.
Nerve hydrodissection is an ultrasound technique for treating nerve compression. It uses fluid to dissect out the compressed nerves from the surrounding fibrotic tissues.
Platelet-derived growth factors are important to the healing process. When these growth factors are placed within damaged tissue they increase blood flow and recruit stem cells and other cells important for healing to the area.
Pericytes (also known as stem cells) are used when more robust healing is required. These treatments are a good option should an individual have insufficient success with simpler treatments.
How can I maximize the effect of regenerative treatments?
Healing is not independent of your biochemical and nutritional status. The more you can optimize your diet and nutritional status, the higher the likelihood of a great outcome. It is also important to maintain and improve your overall strength and flexibility. Do not forget about the importance of proper sleep habits and stress management.
What else do I need to know about these treatments?
Regenerative treatments take patience and should not be considered a quick fix. When they are effective they are considered more permanent than conventional treatments.