By Dr. Darin Stokke, DC
You might be wondering why a person might consider using regenerative medicine. Most people use regenerative Medicine as a treatment option for joint pain. Traditional treatment options for joint pain and degeneration has mainly focused on conservative options including chiropractic and physical therapy on one side and pain medication and surgery on the more invasive side. If conditions are caught early, conservative treatment options have been extremely effective at pain relief and increasing function of a joint. However, as conditions progress over time, the more invasive options of opiod pain medications and surgery have traditionally been the only other options to consider for treating degenerative joint. This is where Regenerative Medicine 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 tissues in a degenerative joint.
Let’s look at what it takes for a joint to be healthy and to remain healthy. First, every joint in the body is designed to function best when it is aligned properly. Restoring and maintaining optimal alignment will allow each joint to function within its full range of motion evenly with 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 and the surrounding tissues. This is called degenerative joint disease and it’s not merely a result of aging.
Second, joints are designed to move and to move often. The way joints maintain health, stability and get the necessary nutrients for repair is through movement. Joints that don’t move break down. Joints move in certain ranges of motion through the contraction and relaxation of the muscles that cross over that joint. The muscles form a pattern of movement. 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 and breakdown of the surrounding tissues through dehydration, inflammation, lack of nutrients, and improper biomechanical stresses. This is consistent with arthritis.
A comprehensive Regenerative Medicine program can address the issues related to arthritis and degenerative joint disease. A comprehensive program is individualized depending upon the patient, the age of the patient, the joint being affected, and the overall health of the patient. The products used in the injections can come from the patient’s own blood in what is called PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma), or from the umbilical cord blood and cord tissue as well as amniotic tissues gathered after the delivery of a healthy baby by a healthy mom. These tissues have varying amounts of stem cells, which our body uses to repair and regenerate tissues. In addition a complete Regenerative Medicine program should always involve post injection care including aligning the joints, nutrition, addressing postural imbalances, and retraining joint movement through a specific rehabilitation. Without addressing what caused the degeneration the stem cells will provide limited long term improvement. While the results on before and after x-rays are amazing after the injections, the real long-term fix must include a comprehensive program to ensure the health and function of the joint 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 and find out more about what Regenerative Medicine can really offer. It’s more than just about pain, it’s about your life and regaining your lifestyle again. There is hope!