Regenerative Medicine for Chronic Pain
One effective way to treat chronic muscle or skeletal pains that exists due to an injury that never healed property is by stimulating the body’s regenerative healing systems. Throughout the body, there are dormant stem cells waiting to be activated to heal chronic, painful injuries. Possible chronic injuries and resulting pain could include back pain, neck pain, and even pain in your legs, knees, or shoulders. Regenerative medicine “awakens” these cells so they can go to work healing pain-causing injuries and inflammation. The doctors at Space City Pain Specialists offer three tiers of regenerative medicine:
- Plasma rich platelet (PRP) injections
- Amniotic fluid injections
Prolotherapy (or Regenerative Injection Therapy)
Prolotherapy or Regenerative Injection Therapy (RIT) is the oldest, most basic, and least expensive regenerative medicine approach. This technique, which dates back to the 1950s, involves injecting an irritant into the area where a patient suffers from chronic pain. This injection creates a “soft injury” that activates the body’s healing cells. While cells are signaled to travel to the area of the injection site to heal the soft injury when they reach the injection area they also have healing effects on older chronic injuries that have occurred in the ligaments or tendons. The irritant used in regenerative injection therapy is a dextrose (concentrated sugar water) solution. Injecting this solution creates a small area of bleeding “injury” that activates the body’s natural healing process, and in turn, strengthens and encourages new growth of the body’s natural tissues.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injections
The next level of regenerative medicine is platelet-rich plasma injections or PRP therapy. Like prolotherapy, a material is injected into the area suffering from chronic pain. Instead of injecting dextrose, which is an inactive irritant, simply to create an injury, a spine specialist injects platelet-rich plasma from the patient’s own blood. PRP is full of beneficial growth factors that cause the healing system in the injection area to jump into overdrive.
Before a therapeutic PRP injection, doctors draw blood from the patient and place it in a machine, called a centrifuge, to extract the plasma. This plasma is then injected back into the patient’s body where it travels to damaged blood vessels, binds together, and promotes clotting and healing. Injection of PRP activates dormant stem cells in the injection region to travel to the injury site where they replace damaged cells and heal the chronic pain-causing injury.
Amniotic Fluid Injections
Amniotic fluid injections are the third and most advanced level of regenerative medicine at Space City Pain Specialists. Amniotic fluid is a nutrient- and antibody-rich fluid obtained from placental material discarded after childbirth. (Note: amniotic fluid contains absolutely no fetal tissues.) Many medical facilities collect amniotic fluid after natural childbirth and store it solely for use in biologic therapies. Like PRP injections amniotic fluids injections deliver large quantities of healing growth factors directly into the injured area of the body. Amniotic fluid injections are more effective than PRP injections simply because they contain more of these growth factors.
While PRP injections are typically as effective as amniotic fluid injections for younger individuals whose platelets are healthy and vital, amniotic fluid injections are recommended for patients who are older and/or suffer from underlying medical conditions that have reduced the growth factor concentration in their own platelets.
Another Type of Regenerative Medicine: Stem Cell Injections
The most advanced form of regenerative medicine involves injecting stem cells procured from a patient’s bone marrow, fat, etc. rather than stimulating regional stem cells. Space City Pain Specialists does not offer stem cell injections because the FDA prohibits the culturing of stem cells in the United States. Without the ability to culture cells, procuring enough stem cells from a patient to be effective is prohibitively expensive (multiple thousands of dollars per injection.)
Space City Pain Specialists: Affordable Regenerative Medicine
Most regenerative medicine therapies are fully or partially cash-pay procedures. Space City Pain Specialists regenerative medicine treatments are affordable. Even our most advanced option, amniotic fluid injections, are available for the spine for approximately $500. The same injections cost up to $2,500 in hospitals. We have partnered with our medical supplier of amniotic fluid on a venture that allows us to secure amniotic fluid at cost. In return, we are creating a database detailing our successes using amniotic fluid to resolve chronic skeletal or muscle pains.
If you are interested in discussing whether regenerative medicine could be effective for your chronic pain, contact our pain doctors for a consultation.