Both platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy and stem cell therapy have shown great promise in the orthopedic field, as well as other areas of medicine. Both of these innovative therapies are in use now, and are continually studied to find new areas where they may help heal injury and treat disease. They are now both being applied in such injuries and conditions as pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis, ACL tears, rotator cuff tears, plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, tennis elbow, and sprains and strains.
How Do the Therapies Work?
Blood is composed of a liquid (plasma) as well as three types of solids — red cells, white cells, and platelets. The platelets are vital to the blood-clotting process, containing healing and growth factors crucial to the recovery process.
When a person receives an injury, platelets flood to the injury site to stem the flow of bleeding. They also signal for other platelets to release growth factors to the area to stimulate the repair response. These platelet growth factors direct actions that will aid in healing — like bringing in stem cells and blood vessels to energize the injured area into repairing itself.
While PRP therapy can help call in various repair agents, including stem cells, to the site of the injury, stem cell therapy places the stem cells directly at the site without the other factors. Stem cells are found throughout our body, and when they are called upon by conditions like injury or disease, they multiply to assist in recovery.
The process of PRP therapy involves drawing the patient’s blood and takes approximately one-half hour to complete. The drawn blood is placed in a centrifuge, which spins and separates out the platelets. The highly concentrated platelets are then re-injected into the injured area, releasing the growth factors that promote healing. Injections may be repeated every four to six weeks; your Orthopedix MD physician will advise what schedule is best for your injury.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy uses the patient’s own stem cells (autologous), most commonly obtaining the stem cells from bone marrow from the outside part of the pelvis (the iliac crest). Stem cells may also be obtained from the patient’s blood or fat. When extracting from the bone marrow, a needle is inserted in the iliac bone and the marrow is withdrawn. Stem cells from the bone marrow may be either hematopoietic (blood-forming stem cells) or mesenchymal, which helps form cartilage, tendons and ligaments, and are of particular value in orthopedics.
The patient’s withdrawn stem cells can then be separated from other cells in the bone marrow and grown in the laboratory. It may take from one week to 21 days to grow the stem cells before they are injected into the injury site to aid in healing; however, some stem cell procedures involve re-injecting the isolated stem cells into the body the same day.
PRP therapy and stem cell therapy have demonstrated the ability to assist with healing in both injury and degenerative conditions, and there is continuing research for the treatment of other conditions.
For assistance with your injury, contact Orthopedix MD. Our board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeons specialize in surgical and non-surgical care for conditions of the foot and ankle, neck and spine, and hand and upper extremities, as well as treatment of fractures, trauma, and scoliosis. We also provide compassionate orthopedic care for sports injuries and work-related injuries.
Our state-of-the-art offices are equipped with the latest technology to better serve you. For the leader in orthopedic care in South Florida, call our Ft. Lauderdale office at (954) 771-8177 or our Margate office at (954) 580-4080, or schedule an appointment online. We also offer convenient same-day and Saturday appointments, to fit your scheduling needs.