Regenerative medicine uses the human body’s own cells, tissues, or organs to repair or restore normal function. This type of treatment can repair damage caused by age, injury, or disease without traditional medication or surgery. Instead of treating symptoms, regenerative medicine emphasizes returning the affected organ to its original state.
Unfortunately, many patients who can benefit from this technology don’t realize the advantages that regenerative medicine can offer. As the field of regenerative medicine expands in technique and popularity, myths and misconceptions cause confusion about the true nature of these innovative therapies.
A regenerative medicine expert can help you understand how these treatments work and if they’re appropriate for your condition. Dr. Wade McKenna and the team at Dr. McKenna’s Orthopedics and Biologics in Decatur and Trophy Club, Texas, have extensive experience using regenerative medicine to treat conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. Dr. McKenna’s clinical techniques include cutting-edge applications that represent the best that regenerative medicine has to offer.
Learn the truth behind some of the most common myths we’ve heard about regenerative medicine to understand how this technique really works.
Myth #1: Regenerative medicine uses stem cells from embryos.
Stem cell therapy represents one type of regenerative medicine treatment. Stem cells jumpstart the healing process by transforming into cells that can repair and replace damaged tissue. This type of therapy targets your body’s natural healing abilities to areas of injury or damage.
Every organ in your body has unique stem cells that support that specific organ. Embryonic stem cells differ because they can transform into any cell type to support any organ.
Embryonic stem cells originate from early-stage embryos developed during in vitro fertilization (IVF). These embryos exist at a developmental stage, called a blastocyst, that occurs a few days after laboratory fertilization but before implantation in the uterus. Until implantation, the blastocyst, a ball of about 100 cells, remains frozen in this stage at the IVF clinic.
Since each cycle of IVF typically produces more embryonic blastocysts than one couple can use, couples can choose to donate the remaining blastocysts for stem cell research. The embryonic stem cells used in research and therapy originate from unused IVF embryos.
However, most stem cell therapy uses your own stem cells. The treatments offered by Dr. McKenna’s Orthopedics and Biologics harvest cells from your bone marrow and fat tissue. These cells are injected into the affected areas so your body can use them to create new bones, muscles, and blood vessels. When harvesting your own stem cells isn’t possible, stem cells from umbilical cord blood may be substituted.
Myth #2: Regenerative medicine can only treat some types of conditions.
Regenerative medicine treats a wide range of injuries, diseases, and degenerative conditions. Some of the most common treatments involve repair to soft tissue damage. Conditions that can benefit from regenerative medicine include:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries
- Tendon tears
- Lower back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Knee pain
Ongoing research in regenerative medicine indicates significant potential for new medical treatments in many areas. Current and emerging procedures include therapies for cancer, leukemia, heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and burns. With the promise of using regenerative medicine to regenerate entire damaged organs, the field holds valuable promise as an alternative to organ transplants.
Myth #3: Regenerative medicine is risky and unproven.
While regenerative medicine may seem like the “new kid on the block” when compared to traditional pharmaceutical and surgical techniques, this treatment approach has existed for decades. The earliest forms of regenerative medicine included blood transfusions. Bone marrow transplants, now commonly called stem cell transplants, have played a key role in fighting cancer and other blood-related diseases.
As these techniques have proven they can deliver safe and measurable results, regenerative medicine has gained notoriety as a novel approach to treatment. While the term “regenerative medicine” is relatively new, many treatments have been used successfully for decades.
Stem cell therapies use natural substances from your own body, which reduces the possibility of rejection. As a result, these procedures offer a minimally invasive approach with significantly fewer risks and complications when compared to conventional surgery.
Ready to find out more about how regenerative medicine really works? Schedule an appointment or call our office for an assessment of your condition and treatment options.