Dr. Glenn Flanagan

We are currently witnessing an exciting shift in orthopedic healthcare options – and it’s not new gadgets to implant, robotic surgeries, or 3D printed limbs. It’s much, much simpler than that. Instead, we now have a growing body of evidence that regenerative treatments can preserve our musculoskeletal health and decrease pain from degenerative changes.

Before resorting to surgery, we can now target injuries with regenerative injections to promote the natural healing process. Most commonly these  involve Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and stem cells. Most people I meet are extremely excited to hear about these new options. The idea that we could simply boost natural healing is a concept they like very much – until they hear it is not yet covered by insurance.

Most people who already pay for insurance want to use that insurance whenever they can, it’s only natural. But what do we do when the insurance does not cover the best option for our health? For example, patient access to education about nutrition is still limited by insurance, and we all know that
nutrition is one of the cornerstones of health and longevity.

There’s been a growing focus over the last decade on education regarding the important roles of posture and biomechanics in preservingour musculoskeletal health, but even the most disciplined athlete will experience pain at some point. So, when we experience pain, what should we do next?
A new understanding of orthopedic health has taught us that the various medications, cortisone shots and epidurals traditionally offered to manage pain unfortunately speed up arthritic changes in our spine and joints.

The result has been a steady rise in diagnostic surgical procedures and surgeries, often removing tissue from the painful area, which also speeds up the degenerative process. Naturally, this results in rising numbers of joint replacements and spine fusions, with predictions of hip and knee replacements alone increasing 189 % by 2030 from the numbers between 2000 – 2014!

A very interesting thing to note is that there is not one, but two American Academy of Orthopedic associations. One is AAOS (surgery) and the other is AAOM (medicine).  The members of AAOM have been using a treatment called Prolotherapy since the 1930’s, instead of surgery. This involves injections to stimulate and enhance the natural inflammatory healing/regenerative cascade.

In the past, these treatments were done with weak solutions that sometimes required six or more treatments. With recent advancements in Regenerative Medicine, we now have stronger, more natural solutions that show results after only one or two injections. These treatments use Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and stem cells. The platelets are obtained from a sample of blood drawn in the office, like going to the lab for blood tests. The stem cells are obtained from your bone, an office procedure that is also tolerable if performed with expertise.

While many providers (MDs, DOs, naturopaths, therapists, chiropractors, etc.) are offering these services, it is extremely important to find a skilled and trained interventionist. Although “PRP” and “stem cell” treatments are effective, the outcome is truly optimized if they are placed precisely in the right location with live ultrasound and x-ray!

These cells cannot be simply injected into a joint like traditional cortisone shots and be expected to magically find their way to the injury that needs to heal. Before turning to surgery, please consider how the advancements in Regenerative Medicine can help minimize your pain without going under the knife.

If you or someone you know is suffering with chronic spine or joint pain and would like to hear more about how I can help fix the root cause of the pain using Regenerative Medicine, please call the office and I would be happy to discuss it in further detail.

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