By: Dr. Darin Stokke, DC Lifestyles healthcare Group
FORT MYERS, FL – Recently I was privileged enough to be one of a handful of healthcare businesses from across the county asked to be interviewed by Kevin Harrington, one of the original Sharks from the hit TV show Shark Tank, about the exciting results we are getting in our proprietary Regenerative Medicine program. Speaking with Kevin during our interview segment made me realize just how much the topic of Regenerative Medicine is buzzing in the media and that we are entering into an exciting time in healthcare with this amazing cutting edge technology. However, it also made me realize just how much misunderstanding and perhaps misinformation is out there about what Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell therapy is about.
Let’s consider why you might consider Regenerative Medicine as a treatment option for joint pain and why there is so much buzz about the topic. Traditional treatment options for joint pain and degeneration has mainly focused on conservative options including chiropractic and physical therapy on one side and pain medication and surgery on the more invasive side. If conditions are caught early, conservative treatment options have been shown to be extremely effective at pain relief and increasing function of a joint. However, as conditions progress over time, the more invasive options of opiod pain medications and surgery have traditionally been the only other options to consider at treating a degenerative joint. This is where Regenerative Medicine including Stem Cell Therapy is bridging the gap between the two and providing hope of not only avoiding invasive drugs and surgery, but actually may be helping the body regenerate the tissues in a degenerative condition or joint.
Let’s look at what it takes for a joint to be healthy and to remain healthy. First, every joint in the body is designed to function best when it is aligned properly. Restoring and maintaining optimal alignment will allow each joint to function within its full range of motion and forces distributed evenly with movement. Without proper alignment of the joint, the joint structure will not be able to move through a functional range of motion creating uneven wearing down of the joint as well as the tissues
surrounding the joint. This is called degenerative joint disease. Degenerative joint disease is not merely a result of aging as is widely claimed and it can be prevented.
Second, each joint in the body is designed to move and to move often. The way joints maintain health, stability and get the necessary nutrients for repair is through movement. Joints that don’t move break down. Joints move in certain ranges of motion through the contraction and relaxation of the muscles that cross over that joint. These muscles form a pattern of movement that allows the joint to function. However, if the muscles become imbalanced due to injury, over use, de-conditioning, or simply poor posture, they will move the joint in a dysfunctional way creating instability of the joint as well as breakdown of the surrounding tissues through dehydration, inflammation, lack of nutrients, and improper biomechanical stresses. This is consistent with arthritis.
A comprehensive Regenerative Medicine program can address the issues related to arthritis and degenerative joint disease. However, Regenerative Medicine is more than simple stem cell therapy. A true regenerative medicine program is a program that is individualized depending upon the patient, the age of the patient, the joint being affected, and the overall health of the patient. The products used in the injections can come from the patient’s own blood in what is called PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma), or from the umbilical cord blood and cord tissue as well as amniotic tissues gathered after the delivery of a healthy baby by a healthy mom. These tissues have varying amounts of pluripotent stem cells, which our body uses to repair and regenerate tissues, as well as Hyaluronic acid and cytokine growth factors. In addition to the injections, a complete Regenerative Medicine program should always involve post injection care including re-aligning the joints, nutritional considerations, addressing dysfunctional postural imbalances, and retraining proper movement patterns of the joint through a specific rehabilitation program. Without addressing what caused the degeneration to occur in the first place, the stem cells will
provide limited long term improvement. The biggest misconception is that the injections are a quick magic fix to permanently repair a joint. While the results on before and after x-rays are amazing after the injections, the real long-term fix must include a comprehensive program to ensure the health and function of the joint to avoid future problems.
If you are confused about regenerative medicine or find yourself looking at surgical options without hope of ever being pain-free, call and find out more about what Regenerative Medicine can really offer. It’s more than just about pain, it’s about your life and regaining your lifestyle again. There is hope!