We all know that consistently being physically active is an important factor in the health of our bodies and minds. However, physical activity brings the risk of a sports injury. Damage from contact sports, falls, or overuse can happen to anyone at any age or fitness level.
The U.S. Department of Human and Health Services conducted a survey from 2011 through 2014 and found that approximately 8.6 million sports and recreation related injuries occurred per year.
65% of these injuries occurred in people 5 to 24 years old.
Once an injury occurs, it can greatly impact your life. It may cause you to miss part of a critical season in college or high school sports, interrupt training for a triathlon or marathon, or delay your health goals. If surgery is required, healing usually takes months and you may never fully regain your previous level of strength and fitness in the impacted area. Fortunately, there are treatment options for many sports injuries that may help you recover more quickly and completely, and possibly eliminate the need for surgery.
A large percentage of sports injuries occur in the musculoskeletal system. Minor damage to this system is usually treated with rest, ice, compression, elevation, and over-the-counter medicine to reduce pain and swelling. The next level of conventional treatment includes prescription medication, physical therapy, and steroid injections. Arthroscopy or surgery are often required for more serious injuries. The problem is, many of these treatments do not always provide complete healing and, when they do, healing can take many weeks or months.
Regenerative therapies can provide enhanced healing since they stimulate your body’s natural healing mechanisms. Injured tissue often recovers more quickly than with traditional therapies alone. Depending on the injury, it may be possible to regain a level of ability comparable to what you had before.
Reduced pain is another benefit of regenerative medicine. Opioid medications and steroidal or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories may deal effectively with acute pain for a short while, but they can carry serious repercussions for your health. They also merely mask the pain, but regenerative therapy heals the cause of the pain, eliminating your need to use painkillers long-term. In those with chronic pain from injuries, regenerative therapies can provide a measure of relief immediately, with significant improvement in two weeks.
The various regenerative therapies can be used alongside traditional therapies for more complete healing. They minimize the formation of scar tissue, which improves mobility and flexibility at the site of the injury. Should surgery still be necessary, regenerative therapies allow for quicker recovery after surgery, as your function will be improved by reducing scarring. Additionally, in a joint that requires surgery to repair ligament or cartilage tears, you are more likely to develop osteoarthritis at an earlier age. Since regenerative therapies can successfully repair a joint and/or the surrounding tissue without the need for surgery, or improve the recovery and minimize the scarring if surgery is required, it is an excellent treatment option to help reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis in the future.
Types of Regenerative Therapies Used at Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine
We use O-Zone, Ozone Clot Matrix (OCM), which is a combination of ozone therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, and Stem Cell therapy for patients with many types of sports injuries. Each therapy automatically includes Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF), which works at the cellular level to enhance the benefits of the other therapies. After a thorough evaluation, we create an individualized treatment plan based on your injury and medical history. We only recommend therapies that are safe and have been effective in people with a similar injury.
Some injuries will respond better than others and require fewer injections. For example, a recently torn rotator cuff will usually respond more quickly than a joint with years of accumulated wear and tear that is showing signs of degenerative arthritis. Some people will heal most effectively when combining regenerative therapies with other medical services and we will work with you to develop a treatment plan that will generate the greatest healing.
How Do Regenerative Medicine Therapies Work?
Ozone, OCM, and Stem Cell therapies work by enhancing your body’s own healing mechanisms and speeding up the healing process. The difference between the types of therapies is the power of the stimulus. Ozone injections provide a simple, mild stimulus. OCM supplies a mid-level boost and stem cells deliver a huge stimulus to the immune and repair systems. Many patients benefit from a combination of stem cells with OCM.
Stem Cell Therapy is the focus of hundreds of studies and clinical trials and is proving to be highly effective in repairing many sports injuries. Cartilage, tendon, ligament, muscle, and bone have all shown high responsiveness to stem cell therapy that used mesenchymal stem cells and since these are all tissues susceptible to sports injuries, it is especially effective in providing enhanced healing for sport-related injuries.
An article, “Emerging Applications of Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine to Sports Injuries” (1), was published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine in 2014. The authors, David A. Ajibade, et al., discussed the potential applications for sports injuries from the results of nearly 50 studies on emerging regenerative therapies, many of which focused on stem cell therapy and PRP. Here are a few of the highlights.
Current conventional nonsurgical, surgical, and rehabilitation techniques for tendon and some ligament injuries provide inconsistent outcomes. Tendon tissue that has been repaired using these techniques rarely achieves the same level of functionality it had prior to the injury. Part of the problem is that tendons have limited vascularity, meaning that there is reduced blood flow to the injured tendon so it cannot heal as quickly and completely as other types of tissues. However, David A. Ajibade, et al. found that “Stem cell therapy within the context of regenerative medicine could potentially offer accelerated or higher quality healing in tissue that has limited vascularity.”
Muscle injuries tend to form a significant amount of scar tissue, especially when they require surgery. This can lead to chronic symptoms of muscle fatigue and pain. Yet, “stem cells may have the potential to accelerate the healing process in muscle injuries and decrease the formation of scar tissue.”
Articular cartilage is the tissue that covers the ends of the bones in a joint. David A. Ajibade, et al. stated that “combining PRP and MSCs in vitro demonstrated a 10-fold increase in several chondrogenic markers when compared with controls.” This means that using a combination of Mesenchymal Stem Cells, the type we use at TCIM, and PRP greatly enhances the formation of cartilage.
Additionally, ozone rich therapies, like the ones performed at TCIM, deliver a rich supply of oxygen to tissues that have decreased blood supply due to limited vascularity. This improves pain and functionality quickly.