The Truth About Regenerative Medicine

Recently I was privledge enough to be one of a handful of healthcare businesses from across the country asked to be interviewed by Kevin Harrington, one of the original Sharks from the hit TV show Shark Tank, about the exciting results we are achieving in our proprietary Regenerative Medicine program.  Speaking with Kevin during our interview segment made me realize just how much the topic of Regenerative Medicine is buzzing in the media and that we are entering into an exciting time in healthcare with this amazing breakthough technology.  However, it also made me realize just how much misunderstanding and perhaps misinformation is our there about what Regenerative Medcine and Stem Cell therapy is about.

Let's consider why you might consider Regenerative Medicine as a treatment option for joint pain and why there is so much buzz about the topic.  Traditional treatment options for joint pain and degeneration have mainly focused on conservative treatment options including chiropractic and physical therapy on the one side and pain medication and surgery on the more invasive side.  If conditions are caught early, conservative treatment options have been shown to be very effective at pain relief and increasing function of the joint.  However, as conditions degenerate over time, the more invasive opiod pain medications and surgery have traditionally been the only other options to consider for treating a degenerative joint.  This is where Regenerative Medicine including Stem Cell therapy is bridging the gap between the two and providing hope of not only avoiding invasive drugs and surgery, but actually helping the body regenerate the degenerating tissues in the joint.

For a joint to remain healthy it is necessary for the joint to be aligned properly.  Restoring and maintaining optimal alignment will allow each joint to function within its full range of motion and forces to be distributed evenly with the movement.  Without proper alignment of the joint, the joint structure will not be able to move through a functional range of motion creating uneven wearing down of the joint as well as the tissues surrounding the joint.  This is called degenerative joint disease.  Degenerative joint disease is not merely a result of aging and it can be prevented.

Every joint in the body is designed to move and to move often.  The way a joint maintains health, stability and gets the necessary nutrients for repair is through movement.  Joints that don't move breakdown. Joints move in certain ranges of motion through the contraction and relaxation of the muscles that cross over that joint.  These muscles form a pattern of movement that allows the joint to function.  However, if the muscles become imbalanced due to injury, over-use, de-conditioning, or simply poor posture, they will move the joint in a dysfunctional way creating instability of the joint as well as breakdown of the surrounding tissues through dehydration, inflammation and improper biomechanical stresses.  This is called arthritis.

A comprehensive Regenerative Medicine program can address the issues related to arthritis and degenerative joint disease and help restore the joint to health.  However, it's important to know that Regenerative Medicine is more than simple stem cell therapy.  An effective Regenerative Medicine program must be individualized and dependent upon the patient, the age of the patient, the joint being affected, and the overall health of the patient.  The products used in the therapy can come from various sources used individually or in combinations.  Most commonly the products come from the patient's own blood in what is called PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) or from the umbilical cord blood, umbilical cord tissue and amniotic tissues all gathered after the delivery of a healthy baby by a healthy mom.  These sources of stem cells all have varying degrees of pluripotent stem cells which are cells our body uses to repair and regenerate tissues.  Some of the products also contain Hyaluronic Acid and cytokyne growth factors which support rapid stem cell growth and decrease inflammation.  A comprehensive Regenerative Medicine program should also involve post injection care including alignment of the joints, nutritional considerations, addressing dysfunctional postural imbalances, and retraining proper movement patterns of the joint through a specific rehabilitation program. 

Without addressing what caused the joint degeneration to occur in the first place, any stem cell treatment will be less effective and limited in providing long term benefits.  The biggest misconception with stem cell therapy is that the injections are a quick magic fix to permanently repair a joint.  While the results of stem cell therapy seen on before and after x-rays are amazing following injections, real long-term improvement must include a comprehensive program to ensure optimal health and function of the joint and to avoid future problems.

If you are confused about regenerative medicine or find yourself looking at surgical options without hope of ever being pain-free, call our office and find out more about what Regenerative Medicine can really offer.  Remember, it's more that just about the pain, it's about your life and regaining your lifestyle again.   

Author
Darin W Stokke, DC Dr. Stokke is a Chiropractic Physician, Radio Host of the Back to Health Program, and President of Lifestyles Healthcare Group, a unique integrated healthcare model combining medical, chiropractic and functional rehabilitation to help restore structure and joint health, retrain functional movement patterns, and regain health and lifestyle.

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