Which Regenerative Medicine Treatment is Right for Me?

“Do you offer PRP Therapy?”

“Can prolotherapy help with my severe hip arthritis?”

“Can PRP Therapy help my shoulder pain?”

These are just a few of the questions that we are happy to answer when patients call and ask us.

However we know not everyone wants to call, so I decided to write an article to help answer some of those questions for you.

Before we answer the question “Which Regenerative Medicine Treatment is Right for Me?” you really should start with the following questions:

  1. “What is causing my joint pain?” 
  2. “Am I healthy enough for a regenerative medicine treatment?”

Okay, so you are healthy enough. Let’s go over some of your treatment options.

What is Prolotherapy?

Prolotherapy is a natural and effective treatment for joint pain. The treatment consists of injecting a natural irritant solution into an injured ligament or tendon. The solution causes mild inflammation in the treated area, which triggers the body to generate new, healthy, and stronger tissue. The new tissue allows the function and stability of the joint to be restored which helps with decreasing pain.

Prolotherapy usually requires a series of treatments that are usually spaced 4 weeks apart.

Best when used for: Injuries that are due unstable joints from ligament laxity. Examples are some types of knee pain and sprained ankles.

What is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy? 

Platelet Rich Plasma, also known as PRP, is blood plasma that is spun to concentrate the platelets. Platelets are specialized blood cells that carry large amounts of growth factor that are used to aid the body in healing injuries. The platelet growth factors are can help regenerate and repair bone, tendon, ligament, and cartilage.

To prepare PRP, a small amount of plasma is taken from the patient and processed in-house to concentrate the growth factors. All of this is done under sterile technique. The PRP is then injected back into the injured area using ultrasound guidance to ensure accuracy. The PRP then stimulates a healing cascade which develops new collagen and improves the stability and function of the joint.

PRP Therapy usually requires a series of treatments that are usually spaced 4 weeks apart.

Best when used for: Injuries that are due to pain from tendinosis or tendinitis, partial tears, and mild to moderate arthritis. Examples of these injuries are elbow pain, shoulder pain, and some types of knee pain.

What is Stem Cell Therapy? 

True Stem Cell Therapy, consists of using stem cells derived from Bone Marrow or Adipose (Fat) Tissue. Stem Cells contain a number of growth factors and cytokines and have the ability to turn into the tissue that they are injected into. In addition, the plasma used in stem cell therapy also contains PRP which helps increase the efficacy of the Stem Cells.   

To prepare Stem Cell Therapy, the patient’s bone marrow or adipose tissue are extracted using sterile technique. The plasma is then spun to concentrate the stem cells and PRP. Using ultrasound guidance, the stem cells are then injected into the injured area. The combination of stem cell and PRP then stimulates a healing cascade which improves the stability and function of the joint.

Stem Cell Therapy is usually a single treatment.

Best when used for: Injuries that are due to pain from severe arthritis.

What is Amniotic, Placental, or Umbilical Cord Stem Cell Therapy?

Despite the name, these therapies are NOT actually TRUE stem cell therapies. Unlike PRP and True Stem Cell Therapy, these therapies use tissue that is derived from a donor and is either frozen or dehydrated until it is used. These samples DO NOT CONTAIN STEM CELLS but they do contain high amounts of growth factor, similar to PRP so they do work if they came from a good quality source.

A few side notes regarding this therapy:

  1. Given how easy it is for ANY medical professional to obtain these products, many people offer this particular therapy because it doesn’t require much training to perform and they can make a quick buck.
  2. Not all companies that create these products are created equal and it’s your doctor’s job to know which companies are reputable. If they don’t have training in Regenerative Medicine, they likely don’t know which are reputable.
  3. If you doctor ONLY offers this treatment type of injection treatment, stay away! They likely don’t have much training in Regenerative Medicine. If they are a chiropractor who legally can’t do injections, they will hire a nurse or PA, likely with little training in Regenerative Medicine, to do it for them.
  4. These treatments should not be equal to the cost of a TRUE Stem Cell Therapy which averages around $4000.  
  5. These treatments ARE NOT a “cure all” like some people claim.

Those points being said, we do use these therapies in our practice since they can work when they come from a reputable company. However, we only use them when they are indicated and don’t market them as a “cure all.”

Amniotic, Placental, or Umbilical Cord Treatments are usually a single treatment.

Best when used for: Injuries that are due to pain from tendinosis or tendinitis and mild to moderate arthritis when the patient’s PRP is low quality. 

Will my insurance cover my Regenerative Medicine Treatment?

No. Insurance plans do not cover these treatments. Billing for them constitutes insurance fraud.