Stem cells and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) are a new and innovative modality for the treatment of chronic pain. A short blog will not do the subject justice. However, I will try to communicate the basics.
Stem cells are the progenitor cell for almost every cell in the body. They are derived from bone marrow and can become almost any cell in the body. They are responsible for everyday tissue remodeling and turnover.
The majority of cells in the blood are red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is plasma with a high concentration of platelets. Although platelets are known for their effect on clotting, they also contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors which aid in healing.
Both stem cells and PRP are used to promote healing. Stem cells are usually taken from an area of high concentration, like your hip bone, and injected into an area where healing is occurring from an injury. PRP is derived from the blood, which is taken from a vein, put through a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets, and injected into the area of pain and injury.
Both stem cells and PRP promote healing. PRP contains many growth factors that can promote healing and decrease pain. Stem cells may have the ability to generate healthy cells to replace diseased cells.
Although this is a new and exciting area, many of these stem cell and PRP therapies are not covered by insurance. Many uses of stem cells are unproven and may be unsafe if used inappropriately. It is important to do your own research before undertaking this therapy.
What kinds of problems can be treated with stem cells and PRP? There are many including back pain, achilles tendon tear, shoulder rotator cuff tear, hip osteoarthritis, sacroiliac disease. It may take 3 weeks to 3 months after this therapy to see the full result. There is research ongoing as to the uses of stem cell and PRP. No guarantee can be given as to how effective this is. As with any procedure, the results are variable and depend on the patient and the severity of injury.