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Regenerative medicine therapies are gradually gaining traction as alternative treatments for osteoarthritis. The doctors who perform such treatments tend to offer cautious optimism. Meanwhile, some patients swear by regenerative medicine. So what’s the deal? Can regenerative therapies really help osteoarthritis?

A Not-So-Good Track Record

Unfortunately for the regenerative medicine industry, what they practice doesn’t have a particularly good track record – at least within the press and the greater medical community. Plenty of skeptics remain within both circles. There is good reason for that skepticism.

It was not too long ago that regenerative medicine was in the news for all the wrong reasons. Multiple reports from around the country detailed incidents of unscrupulous medical professionals providing injection therapies that ultimately harmed their patients. Under the Trump administration, the government even began clamping down on regenerative medicine providers.

The good news is that things have settled down. Thanks to stricter FDA oversight and savvy patients less likely to believe that regenerative medicine is a cure for anything that might ail them, the bad actors have started to disappear. What’s left are medical clinics that use regenerative therapies responsibly.

Regenerative Medicine and Osteoarthritis

As far as osteoarthritis is concerned, there are typically two ways regenerative medicine practitioners try to help. The first is through platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy. The other is stem cell injection therapy.

PRP therapy utilizes the patient’s own blood to encourage the body to do what it is supposed to do naturally. PRP is a concentrated substance consisting of platelets, plasma, and a number of different growth factors the body requires for healing. It is believed that injecting PRP directly into an affected joint can help reduce inflammation and stimulate the body to better deal with the loss of cartilage.

A stem cell procedure is very similar in terms of administration. However, it is designed to address osteoarthritis in a different way. As you might know, stem cells are cells that are capable of differentiating into different types of tissue. To perform the procedure, doctors need access to stem cells that differentiate into soft tissues.

Cells are obtained through a bone aspirate procedure similar to a blood draw. The harvested material is processed to provide a high concentration of stem cells that are then injected into the bone. If the treatment is successful, the stem cells encourage new tissue growth capable of providing pain relief.

Results Do Vary

As with any osteoarthritis treatment, the results of regenerative medicine vary from one patient to the next. At Lone Star Pain Medicine in Weatherford, TX, doctors are careful to remind osteoarthritis patients that regenerative medicine isn’t a miracle cure. It works well for some patients and not so well for others. A small number of patients report that it doesn’t help them at all.

This should by no means discourage osteoarthritis sufferers from at least talking with their doctors about regenerative medicine. In the event that a patient’s GP or family doctor doesn’t know enough to have an intelligent discussion about it, patients should seek out specialized pain clinics that offer the treatments.

An Alternative to Drugs and Surgery

Lone Star doctors are quick to point out that regenerative medicine is an alternative to other therapies. In an osteoarthritis situation, it is an alternative to long-term prescription drugs and invasive surgeries. The doctors believe that patients should be offered the alternatives.

There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that some osteoarthritis patients are helped by regenerative medicine. Whether it is PRP therapy or stem cell injections, regenerative medicine seems to help some people regain function and enjoy improved well-being.