Using nature's own healing methods to "bio-hack" and reverse disease and degeneration, by helping to restore damaged tissue (muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints) in order to improve mobility and decrease pain
Regenerative Injection Therapies
Are the use of injections to stimulate new growth- right where you need it to regrow it. That may be damaged connective tissue, worn or otherwise degenerated areas of muscle, tendon, ligament and joints. The pain may be localized, or radiating to different areas of the body (great explanation and graphics here).
The two primary types of these are Prolotherapy and Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections (PRP)
Prolotherapy is an injection therapy that promotes healing of damaged, inflammed and painful joints (and other tissues) by promoting "stem-cell migration." This is what tells the immune system to focus on, and heal, injured tissue.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections (PRP)
PRP acts similarly to prolotherapy, but uses a concentrated and ultra-refined sample from your own blood draw to deliver the components of the bloodstream (platelets and other growth factors) that are responsible for healing and regeneration of tissues after normal injuries.
This is then injected into areas of the body that have broken down, either after time, trauma or due to other injuries. The format of injections often uses prolotherapy-specific protocols, which comprehensively looks at a joint's full function, including the joint capsule and any related ligaments and tendons that may be affected.
Common areas of injection in our office are ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and other joints.
PRP is very versatile, and can be used in many regions outside of the musculoskeletal system, such as for scars, skin and hair follicle restoration.
So what does it do?
Because that concentrated sample contains platelets, growth factors and other types of healing-signals, the body "hears" that injection as a call to heal. "Start over here," is the message to the body, "re-grow this cartilage tissue, tendon, muscle or joint." (slightly technical research article, but great for more scientific background)
It is quite amazing that we have technology that can tell the body to literally regrow parts of itself (check out this animated video). And all this with being no more invasive than a simple blood draw and injection (and if prolotherapy is done, then no blood draw is required for that procedure).
What conditions do prolotherapy and PRP treat?
Osteoarthritis, also called Degenerative Joint Disease or DJD (also a great scientific overview of the biochemistry behind PRP)
Tendonitis or other tendon pathologies, such as to the achilles tendon
Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis
Rotator cuff tears, or chronic joint dislocations (including frequent sprains)
Chronic bursitis, acute or chronic joint pain and all sorts of sports-related injuries
Many other types of sprains, strains such as muscle tears and injuries
Look up many other types of musculoskeletal pain condition and related prolotherapy research here.
Dr. Ross Hauser has many additional articles on the topic.
And if you really want to pour through the scientific literature, then consult this published article in Practical Pain Management.
How do I prepare before? What should I expect afterward?
Since each person and their injury or chronic condition is different, recommendations both before and after Regenerative Injection Therapies are customized to each patient. If you would like to see if you are a good candidate, please call the office to set up a new patient appointment, or a free consult to find out more.
So if this stuff is so amazing, why haven't I ever heard of it?
Well, a very obvious answer is that since this does not involve any FDA-regulated pharmaceutical or surgical device, there is very little incentive for our standard medical model to adopt it. And as such, private insurance companies do not cover this service (though the office visit itself will be covered as usual and some types of injection procedures may be covered), even if it may be the most effective and lowest cost choice.
Unfortunately, a life-time of pain killers or surgery may be offered and covered, but this in-office procedure which may literally regenerate the degenerated tissue thus helping to reverse the condition in its entirety is not covered by insurance. I don't make the rules on this, believe me.
So although these Regenerative Injection Therapies exist outside of our insurance-coverage model, they're anything but obscure. Prolotherapy has been researched since the 1950s, where it was originally developed in hospitals to help patients recovering from auto accidents, work accidents and surgery. PRP is extremely popular among elite athletes, even being used by our local Timber's football players. Why? Because these injection therapies offer a non-surgical therapy to restore function and reduce pain- quickly and effectively. And that is exactly what gets elite athletes back into the game and for the rest of us, gets us free from pain so we can get on with our life.
A delving little bit more into the science can be found here.
Even further reading, a comprehensive look into the history and current technique of RIT can be found here.
And if you ask your insurance about coverage and they tell you "prolotherapy is experimental," they have made the choice to intentionally not to cover it, and using this phrase as an excuse. This view is not fact-based, and I highly encourage you to send this information to your insurance company. If regenerative injection therapies are ever to be covered by insurance, it will be because of enough members complain and request it.