Regenerative medicine is an emerging field that holds a lot of promise for eventually treating everything from heart disease to cancer. Suffice it to say that we are a long way from realizing the full potential of regenerative medicine. But that does not mean it has nothing to offer today. Quite to the contrary, regenerative medicine already offers plenty.
For the purposes of this discussion, the types of procedures this post refers to are PRP and stem cell therapies utilized for orthopedic issues, hair loss, and aesthetic medicine. According to Salt Lake City-based Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute, these three areas make up the lion’s share of PRP and stem cell therapies right now.
With that out of the way, here are five things regenerative medicine already offers:
1. Alternative Treatment Options
Let’s start with offering alternatives to more traditional treatments. Consider an osteoarthritis patient who was finally reached the point of needing joint replacement surgery. She has been taking pain medication for years, and her doctor said she has reached the limits of corticosteroid injections. Surgery is all that’s left.
Both PRP and stem cell injections offer an alternative. She could try one or the other, or even a combined treatment. If regenerative medicine proves successful for her, joint replacement surgery could be avoided altogether.
2. More Natural Healing
Regenerative medicine is based on the idea of natural healing. Where joint replacement surgery seeks to remove damaged joints and replace them with artificial substitutes, regenerative medicine seeks to encourage the body to heal itself. This is the foundational principle that makes regenerative medicine what it is.
Natural healing is a key element in all regenerative medicine procedures, but it is most easily observed in sports injuries. A baseball pitcher electing to undergo regenerative medicine injections instead of Tommy John surgery provides the perfect illustration. Surgery repairs damaged tissue artificially. PRP and stem cell injections encourage the body to repair the tissue naturally.
3. Relief from Chronic Pain
There are times when regenerative medicine is offered as a means of relieving pain. Again, osteoarthritis patients are a good example. A doctor might recommend PRP injections, stem cell therapy, or combination of both as an alternative to daily pain medication. For a lot of patients, injections provide the necessary relief.
4. A Reason for Hope
A lack of clinical support for stem cell and PRP injections means regenerative medicine is often considered a measure of last resort. Even though such an approach is not warranted by science, let us run with it anyway. Let’s go back to that same osteoarthritis patient facing joint replacement surgery.
By the time she has reached that point, there is very little hope of ever recovering. Joint replacement is just a way of artificially replacing what is broken. Regenerative medicine is different. It gives the patient a reason to hope. It gives her one more shot at recovery before having to do something as drastic as joint replacement.
5. No Hassle Medical Treatment
Currently, regenerative medicine procedures are not covered by medical insurance. This is bad in the sense that it leaves patients to pay for their treatments out of pocket. But it is good in the sense that regenerative medicine treatments are no hassle treatments.
Patients do not have to worry about wrangling with their insurance companies. Doctors do not have to worry about insufficient reimbursements. Doctors and patients agree among themselves on the number of treatments and the cost.
Regenerative medicine offers a lot of hope for the future. It also offers plenty in the here and now. It deserves a place at the medical treatment table.