Types of Regenerative Medicine for Sports Injuries

Regular participation in sports and exercise has countless health benefits. Unfortunately, it also means an increased risk of injury. Athletes continuously push their bodies to the limit in pursuit of greater strength, speed, balance, endurance and agility. Proper care is key to achieving optimal physical performance and avoiding the sidelines – but sports injuries are a possibility every athlete faces, no matter how conscientiously you nurture and nourish your body.

This inherent risk of injury has put sports medicine at the forefront of innovations in treatment. Newer procedures aim to help patients get back to the game without the invasiveness or extended recovery time of surgery. Regenerative medicine is a growing field that utilizes the body’s natural processes and materials to expedite healing. From professional athletes, to weekend warriors, to those striving to live an active and healthy life, regenerative medicine offers cutting-edge treatments for sports injuries and musculoskeletal conditions.

What Is Regenerative Medicine?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines regenerative medicine as “the process of creating living, functional tissues to repair or replace tissue or organ function lost due to age, disease, damage, or congenital defects.” Regenerative procedures involve harvesting biological substances, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) or stem cells, and introducing them in high concentrations to the injury. By targeting damaged tissue at a cellular level, these treatments accelerate the healing process, restore function and offer long-term pain relief.

How Is Regenerative Medicine Used to Treat Sports Injuries?

In sports medicine, regenerative medicine therapies are typically used to treat musculoskeletal injuries and disorders, in particular to repair or replace damaged ligaments, cartilage or tendons. Regenerative therapies can also be beneficial for muscle and bone-related injuries, as well as many types of chronic pain and degeneration. Some examples include:

  • Tendonitis, such as tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow and patellar tendonitis
  • Joint pain resulting from inflammation after an acute injury
  • Early-stage partial tendon tears
  • Stress fractures
  • Damage to knee cartilage
  • Chronic degenerative joint disease

The goal of treatment is twofold: to get the athlete back to their sport quickly and to get them as close as possible to their pre-injury level of ability. Depending on the type and extent of the injury, regenerative therapy may be the sole treatment or it may be combined with traditional sports injury treatments (bracing, taping, physical therapy, etc).

What Are the Benefits of Regenerative Medicine for Athletes?

Athletes at the top of their game are increasingly turning to regenerative medicine. Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Bartolo Colon, Rafael Nadal and Kobe Bryant are just a few of the professional players who have sought out regenerative treatments for injuries that would otherwise have sidelined them for months. The many benefits of regenerative techniques include:

  • Lower risk of adverse reaction or rejection due to the absence of any foreign agent
  • Virtually painless procedures
  • No surgery, no drugs, no scars
  • No prolonged post-procedural recovery period
  • Treats more than symptoms; permanently restores function and structure of damaged tissue

What Types of Regenerative Treatments are Available for Sports Injuries?

At All Star Pain Management and Regenerative Medicine, we treat athletic injuries with the following regenerative therapies:

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy is a minimally-invasive regenerative treatment that harnesses the unique ability of stem cells to evolve into different kinds of cells depending on where they are placed in the body. During the procedure, stem cells are sourced from bone marrow located in the patient’s hip, then injected into the damaged tissue. Over time, the healthy stem cells repair or regenerate the injured tissue and restore its functionality. The procedure takes less than one hour, involves minimal risk and requires no general anesthesia. Stem cells can be used to treat a wide range of sports injuries, including damage done to muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.

PRP Therapy

Like stem cell therapy, platelet-rich plasma therapy is a minimally-invasive treatment that uses materials obtained directly from the patient’s body. Rather than stem cells, however, PRP heals sports injuries using the platelets and growth factors found in blood drawn from the patient’s arm. After being processed in a centrifuge machine, the prepared PRP is injected into the injured tissue under general anesthesia to stimulate the body’s natural wound healing response and correct the damage. The PRP procedure takes approximately 30 minutes and can be repeated as necessary. PRP therapy is used to treat conditions affecting the muscles, ligaments and tendons, such as tennis elbow or wrist tendinitis.

A2M Therapy

Alpha-2 macroglobulin (A2M) therapy is an injectable treatment for osteoarthritis, the most prevalent chronic condition of the joints. A2M is a protein found naturally in the blood. In a procedure similar to PRP therapy, A2M is collected from a small sample of the patient’s blood and delivered directly into the damaged joint via injection. Once injected, the concentrated levels of A2M work to slow or prevent cartilage breakdown, inhibit the progression of arthritis, and reduce pain and swelling in the affected joint. A2M can be beneficial to anyone living with osteoarthritis as well as other cartilage-related or orthopedic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative disc disease.

Is Regenerative Medicine an Alternative to Surgery?

Treatment for athletes suffering from musculoskeletal injuries often involves surgery to repair the damage or replace an injured joint. Surgical approaches are effective, and sometimes necessary, but they frequently require months of recovery and rehabilitation to restore mobility and strength. They also carry a higher risk of complications. This can be unwelcome news for athletes who are anxious to return to their sport and concerned about their ability to continue playing at an advanced level.

Regenerative therapies can be highly effective without the pain, downtime and risks associated with major surgery. Many patients can avoid surgery entirely by undergoing treatment with a minimally-invasive regenerative technique, allowing them to return to their athletic lifestyle quickly and without the need for opiates. Undergoing regenerative therapy does not preclude a patient from surgery in the area if it becomes necessary in the future.

Game-Changing Sports Medicine From An All Star Team

As the field of regenerative medicine progresses, more athletes are turning to therapies that utilize their own biological materials to heal sports-related injuries. The specialists of All Star Pain Management and Regenerative Medicine take a comprehensive approach to managing pain and restoring function, using a variety of state-of-the-art treatments to get you back on your feet faster. Call 443-808-1808 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Zed and find out if our regenerative treatments are right for you.