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Regenerative Medicine

Stem Cells or Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)

Regenerative medicine, or the use of biologics such as stem cells or platelet rich plasma (PRP), is an exciting and new treatment option to treat a multitude of chronic pain complaints including:

Regenerative medicine therapies, in combination with diet optimization, and a focused post-treatment rehabilitation program give patients the best chance for long term pain reduction and improved function. While regenerative medicine is a newer branch of medicine as it relates to treating chronic pain conditions, there are numerous studies showing encouraging results with the use of stem cells and PRP for repairing tendons, osteoarthritis, and the intervertebral disc. The goal of regenerative medicine therapies is to postpone and, in some cases, eliminate the need for more invasive surgery.

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Regenerative Medicine: Stem Cells

Stem cells are precursor cells that release growth factors and can differentiate into more specific cells. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have gotten the most attention in spine and orthopedics because of their ability to turn into cells that make up cartilage, tendons, intervertebral discs, and bone.

Where do stem cells come from?

Stem cells are classified as either autologous, meaning they are from your body, or allogeneic, meaning they are taken from another person, or donor. When stem cells are harvested from your own body, they are typically taken from bone marrow or adipose tissue (fat).

Harvesting stem cells this way has a few problems, including:

For this reason, we prefer to use an allograft, or donor stem cells, called Wharton’s Jelly as our source of stem cells of injections. Wharton’s Jelly is a gelatinous substance found in the umbilical cord. In utero, it functions to protect the umbilical vessels. Research suggests that Wharton’s Jelly is rich in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), growth factors, and even hyaluronic acid. The Wharton’s Jelly product we use is harvested and donated from full-term healthy babies and has undergone a rigorous screening process to assure quality and safety. This Wharton’s Jelly product is frozen and stored onsite at the Denver Spine and Pain Institute. Prior to injection, it is thawed, mixed with saline, and injected into the targeted tissue using either ultrasound or fluoroscopy (X-ray). While some of the cells are lost in the thawing process, data suggests there are still approximately 760,000 viable stem cells per cc of Wharton’s Jelly.

Regenerative Medicine: Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)

We have long known that the platelets contained in our blood play an important role in forming blood clots that stop bleeding. More recently, we have discovered that these cells contain numerous growth factors that play a critical role in the healing process as well. The growth factors present in PRP have been shown to stimulate stem cell production. These PRP growth factors help initiate the tissue repair process and recruit stem cells to the site of injury, encouraging collagen production and tissue healing.

Where does PRP come from?

PRP is taken from your own body via a blood draw. It is then placed in a centrifuge to separate the platelets from other components of blood. The separated platelets are then injected into the target tissue using ultrasound or fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance.

The Role of Diet with Regenerative Medicine Therapies

The adage “you are what you eat” is especially true with regards to wound healing and tissue repair. The goal of proper nutrition is to reduce breakdown and promote building of new healthy tissues. As the body heals, it has increased nutritional demands, and will therefore need more nutrients to complete the healing process. Important components of proper nutrition include:

Vitamin C, manganese, and zinc are all important in the production of collagen. Vitamin A has anti-inflammatory affects and Vitamins B6 and E have also been linked to tendon health. Vitamin D also has an inti-inflammatory effect.

If I am a candidate for a Regenerative Medicine, how do I prepare for my upcoming injection?

We ask that you discontinue all non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, etc.) 7 days prior to your scheduled injection. You can restart the medication 6 weeks after your injection. For PRP injections, please come well hydrated as this will make the blood draw process easier. Please arrange to have a driver on the day of the injection because post-procedural pain may make it difficult to your drive yourself home. If the injection takes place at the surgery center, and you have decided on sedation, please follow the fasting guidelines per our pre-injection handout.

What can I expect after my injection?

Typically, you will be put in an immobilization brace for two weeks post procedure. You will then start a physical therapy program that is specific to your condition. You will have routine follow up with our providers to make sure you are making progress, both in pain reduction and improved function.

Restoring a Pain-Free Life

Pain can significantly impact the quality of your life, making it hard to perform routine daily tasks and participate in your favorite activities. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with this pain any longer. At the Denver Spine and Pain Institute, we offer the most advanced treatments to alleviate your pain, helping you enjoy life again.

We’re the only sports, back and pain specialists in the country providing a Connected Care Approach™ specifically designed to get you back to enjoying life faster. This approach involves:

  • A full spectrum of care, including physicians, physical therapy, massage, diet and lifestyle coaching, behavioral health, research, and cutting edge treatment options
  • Developing caring and therapeutic relationships that address your unique needs
  • Discussing options and providing the guidance you need from a dedicated healthcare partner
  • Mobilizing an experienced team who coordinates your care program

Schedule an Appointment

Please contact us today to schedule an appointment. The Denver Spine and Pain Institute serves patients in Denver and the surrounding areas of Colorado.

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