Defining what is standard medical treatment nowadays can get a little complicated, as advances in treatments often are made by leapfrogging over older, more established methods. Two such examples are PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and stem cell therapy, which have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years.
Let’s take a look at PRP therapy and stem cell therapy, and how each one can help treat people for various health issues:
How PRP Therapy Works
PRP is a highly concentrated form of one’s own blood platelets, which are best known for their healing role in forming scabs. In this therapy, a blood sample is taken, spun in a centrifuge to obtain a platelet-rich sample, and this concentration is then re-injected into the body at the site of the injury or pain.
The average percentage of platelets found in blood is around 6 percent, and the PRP concentration is about 90 percent higher. PRP is being used to treat various ailments, from arthritis to sports injuries.
How Stem Cell Therapy Works
Stem cell therapy is completely different in that stem cells are harvested from bone marrow or fat tissue instead of blood. Stem cells can help heal an arthritic joint, for example, and to help regrow cartilage.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are adult stem cells, and they are found in many areas of the body. They can theoretically fill in as basically any type of building block in the body to foster regrowth of an injured area; however, they do have some limitations, and this continues to be researched.
Stem cells are sort of a blank slate, ready and able to accept any chemical orders to begin their task of repairing the body. For now, stem cells can be used to treat damage in cartilage, bone, and certain other types of skeletal tissue.
Differences Between the Therapies
The stem cell treatment is a bit more complicated than PRP due to the manner of harvesting the cells. Acquiring stem cells may require access to bone marrow, but it is relatively painless and can usually be done in a doctor’s office.
The marrow is usually removed from the ilium bone (hip), and the cells are processed in a laboratory to concentrate the stem cells. The highly concentrated stem cells are then injected into the affected area bearing the injury or pain.
What Do These Therapies Treat?
Although PRP and stem cell therapies are very different from each other, they are often used to treat similar types of injuries and health conditions – and they are injected back into the body in much the same way as each other.
The health conditions they are frequently used to treat include:
- Rotator cuff tears
- Spinal conditions
- Arthritis in joints
- Overuse injuries
- Inflammation due to a herniated disc
Benefits of PRP and Stem Cell Treatment
Some of the most attractive benefits of these therapies include being able to avoid anesthesia and surgical intervention. Both procedures are minimally invasive, and they offer little to no risk of rejection or infection.
The benefits of these therapies are still being researched, and medical practitioners are eagerly looking for optimal results. Many patients report feeling better, particularly after knee treatment.
Pain Specialists in Texas
If you’d like more information about these alternative pain treatments, or if you’d like to talk to a doctor about alleviating your pain, contact the medical professionals at Balcones Pain Consultants. We have three convenient locations in Austin, Cedar Park, and Marble Falls.
You can call our office today at (512) 834-4141 or request an appointment here. Find out for yourself how to reduce or eliminate your pain so you can get back to enjoying life again.