Chronic pain can slow you down or stop you in your tracks. Whether you’re suffering from arthritis, tendonitis, muscle strains, or ligament sprains or tears, you don’t have to live with pain and limited mobility. And you don’t have to go under the knife to fix it. Regenerative medicine can alleviate your pain and help you heal naturally and quickly.
Dr. Jonathan Shults at Coastal Empire Orthopedics in Savannah understands the frustration of being sidelined by pain. As an avid runner and cyclist, he knows how important it is for athletes to treat and heal their injuries efficiently so they can return to their sports. He also helps his patients with arthritis get back into the game of life — always avoiding surgery whenever possible. Dr. Shults treats with regenerative medicine techniques to bring faster healing and a much less-invasive solution to your joint and soft tissue pain by using your own cells.
How your body heals
Your body knows how to heal itself. You were made with the incredible ability to repair injuries and overcome illnesses. In severe cases, however, you may need a little help. From dietary and physical activity adjustments, to medications, to surgery, and even to alternative methods, humans have been trying throughout history to aid and speed up the body’s natural ability to heal — a complex and fascinating process. Here’s how it works.
If you injure your knee by tearing a ligament, the first thing your body does is send blood to the area. This is called the acute inflammatory phase. That blood is filled with healing elements called platelet cells, as well as growth factors that are essential to the healing process. On the outside of the knee, you’ll notice redness and swelling.
Next, you go through the proliferative phase, where your body begins to repair your tissue and flush out damaged cells. Finally, it’s the remodeling phase, where your body produces collagen and other proteins that help to regenerate something close to your original ligament tissue.
The whole process can take months or even years.
Understanding the concept of regenerative medicine
Regenerative medicine techniques boost your body’s natural healing processes by sending more of those essential platelets, stem cells, and collagen to your injury site. Think of it as an amped up version of the three phases of healing.
Dr. Shults uses three orthopedic regenerative techniques.
1. Plasma-rich therapy (PRP)
Dr. Shults uses it to prevent surgery if at all possible. By drawing a small sample of blood from your arm, using a centrifuge to separate the platelet cells from the red blood cells, and reinjecting those platelets into your injured area, he can give your body a helping hand in the healing process.
2. Stem cells
Whether extracted from your own body or from a donor, stem cells have the unique ability to transform into whatever kind of cell is needed in the healing process. As a result, they can be injected into your damaged tendon, torn ligament, arthritic joint, or surgical site and turn into the exact type of cells (e.g. tendon, ligament, cartilage, etc.) needed to heal those specific tissues.
3. Amniotic injections
Dr. Shults uses amniotic injections as an alternative to steroid injections to help reduce inflammation and pain in damaged joints. Full of growth cells, hyaluronic acid, and other essential elements, this fluid is another all-natural alternative to invasive surgery and drugs.
Regenerative medicine compared to surgery
Dr. Shults’ philosophy when it comes to your health and recovery is that less is better. He always attempts the most conservative treatments first and progresses to more assertive techniques as necessary. That’s why he advocates regenerative medicine over surgery whenever possible.
Here is a quick comparison between the features of regenerative medicine and surgical procedures for joint and soft tissue damage.
- Minimally invasive
- Reduces pain
- No downtime
- No crutches (lower-body injuries)
- Better function and mobility
- Faster healing
- Low chance of infection
- Involves health risks
- General anesthesia
- Long recovery time
- Increased inflammation
- Lost wages from work
- Higher chance of infection
If you have arthritis, tendonitis, sprains, or strains, regenerative medicine may be the solution to your pain by giving you a higher concentration of the cells, platelets, proteins, collagen, and other essential elements your body needs to repair itself.
If age, injury, or arthritis are causing you chronic pain, call us to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online to find out if you’re a candidate for regenerative medicine.