As more and more pro athletes receive regenerative treatments, the rest of us weekend warriors are starting to wonder if this is a treatment that would work for our aches and pains too. It is hard to find information out there on the web because there is so much out there that seems contradictory. So, what is the truth? Dr. Gitelis breaks down some important information.
There are two sources and two general types of stem cells. Amnion and autologous mesenchymal stem cells are both used in medicine today:
Amniotic stem cells are donor cells, retrieved from full term, healthy pregnancies. These cells can be cryo-preserved in a fluid or used to create a patch that is applied during surgery. There is no guarantee that you are getting any live cells with an amnion injection due to the processing techniques. However, amnion is an excellent option for patients who may have compromised stem cells or platelets of their own due to disease or other factors.
Autologous, adult mesenchymal cells, do provide you with live stem cells. These adult stem cells come from your own bone marrow and are processed to give your doctor a fluid that contains your own stem cells. Stem cells help recruit other cells, and based on current research, this procedure helps your body heal faster and stronger than without this added advantage.
PRP stands for Platelet-Rich Plasma and refers to a part of your blood that contains platelets suspended in plasma. This far easier to extract than stem cells and can be done via simple blood draw. Platelets contain a lot of helpful components such as growth factors (stimulate healing), cytokines (molecules that help signal cells to react), and serotonin (signals pain relief). Most studies indicate that PRP is effective as an anti-inflammatory and pain reducer at the site of injury while current studies are starting to show that PRP may also help with healing.
There are different kinds of PRP used and the difference between them are the percentage of white blood cells that are within the fluid. White blood cells can be beneficial or detrimental, depending on the type of injury. This is an important distinction to discuss with your doctor when you are researching whether PRP is right for you. If you have questions about stem cells and PRP, please contact Dr. Gitelis today!