How Regenerative Sports Medicine Is Redefining How We Repair The Body
It’s hard to miss the stories of high profile sports stars such as Tiger Woods and Cristiano Ronaldo having stem cell therapy. But away from the news, there’s also a flood of amateurs and everyday people finding relief from injuries, bypassing harsh treatment methods like surgery and dramatically improving their quality of life.
Most of us know what it’s like to suffer from a sports injury.
You haul yourself out of bed in the morning and groan as you activate the tired muscles in your lower back.
You bend down to play with the kids, holding on to anything in close proximity to compensate for the weakness in your knees.
You help a friend move a few boxes and retire half way through due to the restricted range of motion in your shoulder.
Sports injuries are not limited to the playing field or athletics arena — any injury or disease which occurred as a result of exercise can be classed as a sports injury.
Your lower back pain could be a result of years of poor posture when walking. Your weak knees may be the consequence of a poor lifting technique or inadequate equipment. And that pesky shoulder could simply be due to excessive use over time.
Nearly half of all exercise-related injuries are muscle ruptures and strains (pulled muscles) which affect joints such as the wrist, ankle, and knee. Many of these are minor injuries which can be resolved with proper acute care and physical therapy, but the more severe or chronic cases can often lead to the need for more serious, surgical intervention.
This is an avenue everyone wants to avoid as it can hugely disrupt quality of life, and even mark the end of a sporting career. Lengthy recovery times, the need for braces and support devices, secondary injuries, repetitive instability, and limited range of movement are just some of the problems surgery can churn up.
Piecing The Body Back Together
Surgery is a manual form of reconstructing damaged areas of the body. It involves using various instruments to move and manipulate tissues in an attempt to restore the problem area to an adequate or pre-injury state.
This makeshift approach has been incredibly effective for helping patients recover from a range of problems, particularly as surgical techniques have advanced over the past 20 years. But with its myriad of complications, it’s far from the ideal method of reconstructing the body.
In essence, surgery is just a backup option we turn to when the body cannot fix itself.
If we could somehow gain control over our internal repair system and direct it to specific sites of injury, we could potentially eliminate the need for invasive surgery. This would lead to many people getting back on the sports field in half the time, enjoying longer sporting careers, and generally experiencing much fuller and active lives.
Harnessing The Body’s Natural Repair System
If you can fit new pipes, there’s no need for improvised, leaky patch-up jobs.
And stem cells are not just the plumbers of the body, but its army of expert general contractors — able to self-renew and give rise to any cell type. It’s their job to support the body’s growth and repair, particularly in early life.
There are two main types of stem cells: embryonic, which are found in the embryo, and adult, found throughout the body after development.
Adult stem cells maintain and repair the tissue in the areas they are found, for example in the bone marrow, peripheral blood, brain, skeletal muscle, and skin. The problem is that although some parts of our body can repair themselves quite quickly, others simply cannot. And when we suffer large injuries, we’re not able to recruit enough stem cells to the site to fully repair the area. This ability is also diminished as stem cells become damaged over time through pollution and ageing.
Modern regenerative medicine is underpinned by a number of breakthroughs in science which mean we’re now able to effectively harvest our stem cells, cultivate them in the lab to produce higher numbers, and put them to use in targeted therapeutic treatments.
One such company doing just that is Regenexx. Based in the US, Regenexx is offering an alternative to surgery and traditional sports therapy by providing interventional orthopaedic (bone and muscle) treatments which repair and regenerate tissue and cells.
Same Day Stem Cell Treatments
“It is revolutionary. We have seen tremendous clinical applications since last 10 years using stem cells to treat various orthopaedic conditions. There are immense possibilities what human bodies can do in regenerative capabilities. We are excited about stem cells orthopaedic research. As a group, Regenexx has done over 51 per cent of the world research on orthopaedic regenerative technology.” —Dr. Movva, Regenexx
Over the past 10 years doctors at Regenexx have reportedly performed over 40,000 procedures on patients with sports and lifestyle injuries. Of the stem cell treatments they offer, there are two main types: a same-day procedure in which patient’s stem cells are harvested, isolated, and injected into the injury site within one day, or a cultured stem cell procedure in which the cells are extracted and developed into a higher volume, ready to be later re-injected into the body.
Which method is used varies according to the severity of the injury, and Regenexx has employed both to treat problems such as knee arthritis, injuries of the hip, cervical conditions, tendon and ligament tears, and overuse injuries, publishing and aggregating results from their treatments.
An area which Regenexx commonly treat and is seeing huge success in is the knee joint. Their results have shown that at 36 months after receiving stem cell treatment for knee arthritis, 70 percent of patients had 50 percent or more relief from their symptoms.
The Colorado-based medical group is quickly establishing a name for itself in the field of orthopaedic regenerative medicine. And just recently Regenexx published the world’s largest stem cell safety paper.
The paper looked specifically at mesenchymal-stem-cell-based therapies over a cohort of 2,000 patients and analysed their safety in treating degenerative muscular and bone conditions or injuries.
Chris Centeno, founder of Regenexx and specialist in interventional orthopaedics explains the significance of the paper:
“This is the most in-depth analysis of safety available for any indication in stem cells. In addition, it’s the longest follow-up period for a large group of patients where all complaints are reported.”
Five independent adjudicators were appointed — including a physician from the Mayo Clinic — to ensure the studies were fair, controlled and that an independent conclusion on the safety of the stem cell treatments was able to be made.
The findings of the paper add to the existing body of evidence around MSCs and their safety, providing more data that shows there are little adverse effects from their use as an individual method of treatment. However, Centeno is quick to point out a key factor in the use of MSCs: not all stem cell providers are created equal. This goes to say in order for a safe and effective procedure it’s important to find a provider that is reputable and using the appropriate techniques.
In many ways, the traditional approach to treating serious injury has been to make the best out of what are difficult and unfavourable situations. Cutting the body up here, slicing chunks out there, inserting metal rods everywhere; today we have the knowledge to move away from ‘making do’ with improvised and temporary solutions, and move into effectively repairing, regenerating, and restoring the body back to its former glory, in the way it naturally should.
Visit our website today to find out how you can safeguard your children’s future health by storing stem cells from their milk teeth.