What Are Regenerative Therapies?

The fields of athletic/performance physical therapy and regenerative medicine commonly overlap. Below is a special guest post from Dr. Mayo Friedlis. Dr. Friedlis is a physician with Stem Cell Arts in Chevy Chase, a certified Regenexx provider. Their board certified physicians have over 20 years of experience doing Regenerative therapies and Dr. Friedlis has been practicing there since 1983.

At CHP, we commonly receive questions about the regenerative medicine. It is a relatively new area of medicine and you may have questions such as; What is regenerative medicine? Does it work? Can it help me?

Dr. Friedlis was kind enough to answer these questions and many more. Check out the great information he provided us below!

Regenerative therapies offer an opportunity to stimulate the body to heal itself.  These treatments use platelets or stem cells or other growth factors from the body to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms to build new tissue or heal tissue that is injured.  But when should you turn to something like this?
Many injuries can be healed by the body on its own, often with proper exercises or other maneuvers to restore the body’s equilibrium and balance.  But what if the pain remains despite these measures? 

Regenerative therapies and surgical interventions need to be thought of differently.  We are used to turning to surgical treatments as a last resort when we cannot stand the problem any longer and live our lives to the fullest.   

Regenerative therapies are the exact opposite.  They work best when used earlier.  They help the body to heal, preventing further damage and degradation of the structures.  Think about regenerative therapies when first-line interventions are ineffective and you have not been able to fully return to the activities that you enjoy. 

The earlier you intervene, the greater chance your body has of completely healing from injury. For athletes, it’s never enough to just treat the pain. Regenerative therapies (much like physical therapy) help to treat the actual cause of the pain. That’s where Regenerative therapies excel.
The other question I get asked often is what regenerative therapy is appropriate?  The answer is, it depends.  It depends on what structure is injured.  Ligaments and tendon structures such as the rotator cuff, hip labrum, meniscus or other ligament structures do very well with prolotherapy or PRP (platelet rich plasma).  Joint degeneration and osteoarthritis, are more successful with stem cell treatment. 

Success of treatment also depends on the extent of injury.  A small ligament or tendon tear, or meniscal tear does well with prolotherapy or PRP.  However a larger tear will require an approach involving stem cells.  Mild arthritis can be treated with PRP or prolotherapy but more severe arthritis will benefit more from stem cell treatments.
In conclusion, Regenerative treatments should be sought earlier rather than later.  Delayed treatment can result in additional injuries or compensatory changes.

-Dr. Mayo Friedlis, MD

**To learn more about Regenerative Medicine, Stem Cell ARTs, and Dr. Friedlis, please visit their website!