One of the most difficult things about breaking a bone or tearing a ligament is waiting for it to heal. Sometimes it never heals fully. But here is some good news: Regenerative medicine treatments that include stem cell therapy may have the potential to help you heal faster and even better than traditional approaches. These are treatments that have been used by professional athletes, such as Mo Williams, Stephen Curry, and Garrett Richards.
Regenerative medicine (sometimes called orthobiologics) has been used to treat patients without surgery, or to augment a surgical procedure and enhance healing after an operation. There are several different types available. A popular one is platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which harnesses natural connective tissue growth factors found in specialized blood cells called platelets. To treat a patient with PRP, the doctor draws blood, uses a centrifuge to separate out the platelets (think of them as healing cells), and then injects the platelet-rich solution into the patient’s body at the site of an injury.
If you are considering PRP or another orthobiologic treatment, there are some important things you should know. One is that while many patients have excellent results, doctors are still learning how these treatments work. Better research and patient data are needed before they can fully understand how to more precisely tailor different orthobiologics to treat particular injuries.
“For that reason, we strongly believe people should come to Yale Medicine—an academic medical center—for these treatments,” says Raymond Walls, MD, an orthopedic surgeon. “It is vital that patients are treated by expert physicians who are at the forefront of knowing about the latest research and best approaches to care throughout the world.”