Two types of regenerative medicine treatments known as PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and stem cell therapies use patients’ own body cells to help heal inflamed tissues around injured tendons. Small, thick bands of tissue connecting muscle to bone, tendons help muscles bend and straighten joints. But this role is threatened when tendonitis strikes, says Dr. Arora, an interventional spine and pain management specialist.
“Because tendons are located all over the body, near the spine and all major joints, tendonitis can occur nearly anywhere,” he explains. “But when that happens, it’s hard to exercise – or even move – the affected part of the body without pain.”
“That’s why it’s so important that we continue developing effective new treatment approaches for tendonitis,” Dr. Arora adds. “PRP and stem cell therapies offer the added benefit of actually helping to heal the problem, not just cover up the discomfort.”
How PRP and stem cell therapies work
PRP and stem cell therapies are both categorized as biologic treatments because they’re derived from the body’s own cells, Dr. Arora says.
PRP is made from platelets present in our body’s plasma, the liquid component of blood.
Stem cells, which can grow into any type of body cell, are derived from bone marrow, fat tissue or circulating blood.
In either minimally invasive procedure, a special needle is used to extract cells from the patient, which are then concentrated and/or purified in a machine. The resulting cells are then injected into the affected tendon area using imaging technology. Common sites are near the spine or elbows, knees or shoulders.
Biologic therapies such as PRP and stem cells have emerged as a hot area of medical research in recent years. “While results are still preliminary, evidence strongly suggests PRP and stem cells are extremely promising for chronic tendonitis in the spine or other joints in their ability to regenerate worn or injured tissues or release substances that promote tendon repair,” Dr. Arora says.
Benefits of PRP and stem cell therapies
Since cells taken from our own bodies can’t be rejected, the risks of undergoing stem cell or PRP therapies are minimal, according to Dr. Arora. The same-day procedure – which may need to be repeated periodically – also enables patients to go right back to regular activities such as work or sports.
Additionally, regenerative medicine therapies offer something that symptom-based treatments – which for years have included anti-inflammatory medications, pain relievers or steroid injections – simply cannot, Dr. Arora notes.
“PRP and stem cells offer the chance for true healing, not just symptom relief,” he says. “While other treatments have been the mainstay of tendonitis care for many years, regenerative medicine goes one step further. It’s thrilling to be able to offer patients such an encouraging newer option.”
Atlantic Spine Center is a nationally recognized leader for endoscopic spine surgery with several locations in NJ and NYC. www.atlanticspinecenter.com,www.atlanticspinecenter.nyc
Jason Arora, DO, is a board-certified physician who is fellowship-trained in interventional spine and pain management at Atlantic Spine Center.