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What is Regenerative Medicine?

by Jul 22, 2018Regenerative Medicine/Stem Cells0 comments

Regenerative medicine is, as the name suggests, a branch of medicine focused on regenerating and rebuilding tissue and cells in the body, from damaged or diseased organs, muscle, bone, skin hair, nerve cells and more. This type of medicine focuses on the body’s own ability to heal and repair itself, and utilises treatments and therapies which stimulate and assist the body to use these abilities to restore the natural functions.

Generally, regenerative medicine stimulates the action of a variety of cells and compounds in the body, including stem cells, progenitor cells, leukotrienes and so forth, and these cells are what create and protect the new tissue in the target area of treatment. Essentially, by providing a stimulus, it is possible to release or trigger a cocktail of ingredients in your body to heal most damage and degeneration.

 

To provide an example, consider a shoulder injury, specifically a degenerative or inflammatory condition like tendinitis. The constant inflammation causes pain, loss of strength, reduced function and eventually wasting of the muscle. In many cases, if surgery is not recommended, this is treated with corticosteroid injection, which is essentially an anti-inflammatory and pain-killer, and rehabilitative exercise. In some cases this approach does not work, as the steroid only masks the symptoms, and in many cases the shoulder is too sore to exercise. A regenerative treatment which is used in these cases is called prolotherapy, which is a form of PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatment.

A small amount of blood is taken, and is specially prepared to extract your own plasma, which is the golden liquid part of your blood. The plasma contains your own growth factors, the building blocks of your tissue. This plasma is then injected, sometimes by itself and sometimes with other compounds, directly into the injured area of the shoulder. This process provides an immediate concentration of growth factors to the damaged muscle cell for repair and rejuvenation, and stimulates a cascade of healing cells, which work to remove old damaged tissue and grow and protect new muscle tissue. This is technically a ‘rebuilding’ of that muscle tissue. With the proper exercise and movement protocol, this tissue can then grow stronger and return to normal function, and the cycle of inflammatory degeneration is broken. It is important to note that you must also manage any poor biomechanical factors or actions which caused the initial injury, to prevent it from reoccurring.

 

This type of approach can be applied to many types of injury and tissue degeneration, including bone, tendon and muscle, as well as for many cosmetic and aesthetic concerns like hair loss, skin rejuvenation and other age-related conditions. The various treatments, each of which are recommended for different uses, can also be used to treat some medical conditions, like circulatory or sensory issues. The mechanism of action across these conditions is fairly similar, you are using the body’s own abilities to heal itself.

 

 

As the research into these treatments progresses, new and innovative ways of managing degeneration and injury are developing. There is some robust research behind many of these treatments, but in a lot of cases we still do not have large scale studies to definitively prove the actions of many of these procedures. The science is well understood, but it is very difficult to provide guarantees for any type of procedure in medicine, and particularly regenerative medicine, where each individual can have a different response to treatment.

What is important when considering having one of these treatments is to discuss, in detail, the different aspects of your particular case with the person you select to provide the treatment. Regenerative medicine has produced some groundbreaking and industry-changing treatments in recent years, however they may not be the ‘cure-all’ they are sometimes sold as, so it is vital to consider all available options to treat your injury or concern.

 

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