Heal Thyself Without Surgery
By Laura Lendermon, MD
For years we have relied on traditional orthopedic methods to treat arthritis and ligament, tendon, and muscle injuries. In some cases these are treated by surgery. However, there is exciting new research in the field of orthopedics called Regenerative Medicine, a non-surgical alternative to treating these injuries. WHAT IS REGENERATIVE MEDICINE?
HEALTH+FITNESS | October 2015
Regenerative medicine is a way to use the body’s own tissue to heal itself. It is rapidly growing due to its effectiveness, safety, cost, and, in many cases, its ability to heal without surgery. Regenerative medicine is still considered a very young field, but more and more physicians and patients are jumping on board. There are physicians in some parts of the country who are now using BMAC (stem cell therapy) as a substitute for joint replacement surgery due to it’s ability to avoid the risks, costs, and downtime associated with joint replacement. The first form of regenerative medicine to be introduced in the United States is called PRP. This stands for platelet rich plasma. In this case your own blood is extracted, just as it would be in your primary care doctor’s office for a routine lab test. The blood is then run through a centrifuge type process to separate the whole red blood cells apart from the plasma and platelet layers. The plasma/ platelet layer is then separated from the rest of the blood and injected into the joint or to the soft tissue that needs healing. The PRP provides a rich amount of growth factors and other healing elements that help your body to finally heal. The concentration of so much of the PRP at once stimulates the process. This process has been found to be highly effective for those with soft-tissue injuries that just will
One of the newer members of the regenerative medicine family is BMAC, or bone marrow aspirate concentrate. In this case bone marrow is harvested directly from the patient’s pelvic bone. This is a very superficial site, and can be performed pain free right in the office. The aspirate from this part of the bone is sent to a special machine where it is processed to produce your own stem cells. Stem cells are also often obtained from the patient’s own subcutaneous fat stores. A simple procedure (almost like a mini-liposuction) is done in the office, and those fat cells are sent through a procedure that also yields stem cells. Using these procedures, these cells help fill in the gaps in cartilage in arthritic bone, meniscus tears, and
in injured muscles and tendons. This provides a scaffold to hold the tissue graft that is provided via the stem cells that will then grow in the areas they are placed. Using ultrasound guidance, these biological materials are intentionally placed where healing and growth is needed most. The goal of this procedure is to stimulate the growth and repair of cartilage and other tissues to restore them to their previous level of functioning. For now regenerative medicine is new, but is receiving rave reviews as the cutting edge, aggressive, and safe treatment that will challenge conventional ways for chronic arthritis, tendon, and cartilage injuries. Dr. Laura Lendermon is a Sports Medicine Physician and owner of Lendermon Sports Medicine. To schedule an appointment call (901) 850-5756 or visit lendermonsportsmedicine.com.
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not go away. The areas that have shown the most success are plantar fasciitis and tennis elbow, chronic tendon injuries that traditionally are treated for years with only temporary results. With PRP these injuries can often be eliminated for good.
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