Orthobiologics: PRP and Stem Cells Therapy
What is Orthobiologics?
Orthobiologics is a field of musculoskeletal care that aims to utilize your body’s natural healing response to treat both acute and chronic conditions and injuries. These therapeutic options can be used to treat conditions without surgery or as an adjunct to surgical intervention. When used for nonoperative treatment, often, these therapies can be applied through simple procedures performed in the doctor’s office. Research has shown improved outcomes with the use of orthobiologics in treating a variety of orthopedic conditions, including cartilage injuries, arthritis of the joints, as well as soft tissue conditions such as rotator cuff and ligament tears, muscular and tendon strains, and chronic tendonitis such as tennis or golfer’s elbow.
What is PRP
Available orthobiologic therapies include platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy. Platelet rich plasma therapy involves a simple blood draw. The blood is then placed in a centrifuge that spins and separates the blood into layers. This process concentrates the platelets and growth factors, both of which play a central role in the healing process, into a specific layer which is then extracted and used to activate the body’s natural healing response. This is most commonly performed by injecting the PRP into the site of damaged tissue.
Stem Cells Enhance Natural Healing
Stem cell therapy has generated a great deal of excitement within the orthopedic community. This treatment option is able to enhance the body’s natural healing response, as well as provide cells which can directly take part in healing diseased and damaged tissue. Stem cells are naturally occurring cells that have the ability to become a variety of tissues including cartilage, bone, muscle, tendon, or ligament. Sources for stem cells include bone marrow, adipose tissue, and donor stem cells known as allograft.
Orthobiologics have been shown to have superior results to more standard treatment options when used to treat certain musculoskeletal conditions. For example, multiple research studies have demonstrated improved results with both PRP and stem cell use in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee when compared to steroid or other injections. Similarly, PRP therapy has been shown to improve healing of tennis elbow when compared to the more common treatment of steroid injections and oral anti-inflammatory medications.
In addition to nonoperative treatment, PRP and stem cells can be used as an adjunct to surgical intervention for musculoskeletal conditions. Numerous research studies have demonstrated improved rate and speed of healing with the addition of PRP or stem cells to common orthopedic surgical procedures such as repair of rotator cuff tears in the shoulder and cartilage injuries in the knee.
Orthobiologics is one of the most studied fields of musculoskeletal care. While all of the potential uses of these treatment options have yet to be discovered, orthobiologics provide treatment options which are often less invasive and superior to more traditional treatment modalities.
Dr. Daniel Nicholson offers PRP and stem cell therapy at Perimeter Orthopaedics. Dr. Nicholson is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon with fellowship training in sports medicine. He specializes in arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder, knee, hip and elbow.