Regenerative medicine: the body’s ability to heal itself

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An innovative procedure using the body’s own healing powers can provide long-term pain relief when traditional methods no longer work.
By University of Maryland Faculty Physicians, Inc.

“The potential of this innovative treatment to reduce pain and improve function is really compelling to me.”

Whether you’re an athlete, worker, or have a history of orthopedic injury, chronic pain can negatively affect your daily activities, disrupt sleep, and even cause depression. The good news is that there is an innovative procedure using the body’s own healing powers that can provide long-term pain relief when traditional methods no longer work.

To learn more about this unique treatment, we spoke with Idris Amin, MD, of the University of Maryland Orthopedics.

What is regenerative medicine, also called orthobiology?
Regenerative medicine addresses the underlying root causes of injury and pain, not just outward symptoms. These procedures work by activating the healing processes that our body naturally goes through when we are injured, and improving their effectiveness.

How did you become interested in this clinical specialty?
I have additional training in sports medicine and treat a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions for all types of patients, from the well-trained athlete to the weekend warrior and occasional jogger. The field of orthobiology has existed for over twenty years and has grown rapidly over the past decade, fueled by exciting new research and the development of novel procedures. The potential of this innovative treatment to decrease pain and increase function is truly compelling to me. Tell us about the regenerative medicine procedures offered. The best known procedure is Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP). Platelets are derived from our blood and are filled with proteins that stimulate growth and healing. When injected into the site of injury, platelets provide nourishment and signal the body to bring in more healing cells. PRP can be useful for many orthopedic conditions, including tendonitis and arthritis.

Another common procedure is prolotherapy. It is a mixture of sugar, water and numbing drugs. When combined, they act as an irritant stimulating the body to bring in healing cells to repair the problem at the site of injury. Prolotherapy also targets and destroys some of the pain-causing signals. Patients with arthritis, tendon or muscle strains, and joint or ligament sprains may find relief with prolotherapy.

Who is a good candidate for regenerative medicine?
Patients with long-term chronic pain who have failed to respond to conventional treatment. For example, patients with arthritis, long-term sports injuries, and tendon injuries that have not healed in three months.

How should patients prepare for their treatment?
Patients are recommended to drink plenty of water, follow a healthy diet and avoid certain pain relievers, such as NSAIDs – ibuprofen or Aleve, for at least a week. This will help maximize the success of the procedure.

How many orthobiology sessions are usually necessary?

Depending on the problem, one treatment session may be enough to see positive results. A follow-up appointment is scheduled six to eight weeks after the procedure, where we will discuss the rehabilitation program in more detail. At the end of the program, approximately three months after the procedure, we determine if additional treatments are necessary.

Tell us about the recovery process.
Patients may experience increased pain for about a week, but the level of pain is usually mild and manageable without painkillers. I generally advise my patients to relax after the procedure and not plan strenuous activities.

How is the University of Maryland unique in its approach to regenerative medicine?
Our understanding and involvement in research related to the orthopedic uses of orthobiologics is unique for an academic medical center in this region. I believe it is important that patients go to a provider they can trust and who is up to date in this ever-changing field of medicine.

MEET OUR EXPERT:

Idris Amin, MD
Assistant Professor of Neurology and Orthopedics, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Physiatrist and sports medicine specialist

To program a Regenerative medicine consultation in Columbia or downtown Baltimore, please call 410-448-6400.

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