Prior to the discovery of regenerative medicine, joint pain treatments consisted mainly of steroid injections and, in severe cases, joint replacement surgery. Whether the joint had suffered misuse, overuse, prior injury, inflammation, or degeneration, this was the standard of care. Now that there are alternative options to joint treatment and regeneration, these traditional approaches are being reevaluated for efficacy and safety. Patients and doctors alike are recognizing the significance of minimally invasive techniques in healing the body.
Corticosteroid Injections Do More Harm Than Good
Corticosteroid injections are widely used as an immediate way to reduce pain and inflammation. They are commonly used on professional athletes who suffer an injury but are held at high stakes to keep performing. They have notoriously been used for osteoarthritis and other degenerative joint conditions. However, corticosteroids are not a solution – they are a mask.
A study found that corticosteroid injections may do more harm than good. While they can offer immediate relief, they are harmful in the long-term. Patients who receive corticosteroid injections for joint pain and osteoarthritis are also at risk for complications, including cartilage loss, stress fractures, bone deterioration, and joint destruction.
Moreover, when injected in the hips and knees, it can accelerate the progression of osteoarthritis and speed up the need for joint replacement surgeries. In a study of over 16,000, patients who underwent knee or hip replacement have also received corticosteroid injections in the prior two years.
Joint Replacement Surgery May Not Be The Answer
Joint replacement surgery advertises great outcomes. After all, replacing a painful joint with an artificial one may seem like the perfect solution, and unfortunately, patients are often left believing that surgery is their only option for long-term relief. However, the majority of these patients are uninformed of their options. Studies comparing surgical and nonsurgical treatments for arthritis show that both groups improve, regardless of modality. Regenerative treatments are shown to significantly reduce pain and improve joint function and quality of life.
Nonetheless, over a million Americans undergo knee and hip replacements each year. Driven blindly by their chronic pain, many of them overlook the extreme risks they are putting their bodies through. Surgical patients developed four times as many complications than nonsurgical patients, including infections, blood clots, and knee stiffness that requires another procedure to fix. The dark side of surgery cannot be overlooked – 1 in every 100 to 200 patients who undergo a knee replacement die within 90 days of surgery due to life-threatening complications.
The Promise of Regenerative Medicine in Joint Pain Treatments
Joint pain treatments don’t always require an invasive, extreme approach. Regenerative medicine holds the promise of healing the injured area with a minimally-invasive technique that uses components from the patient’s own body. Stem cell therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and prolotherapy are becoming the new standard for joint treatment. Stem cells, platelets, and growth factors are extracted from the patient’s body and their concentration is increased before injected into the injured area.
There is a reason there is so much hype around stem cells – they are multipotent, meaning they have the ability to become any type of cell in the body (bone, cartilage, muscle, vascular, endothelial, fat, progenitor, and more). This outstanding biological molecule has the ability to regenerate any part of the body. In addition, stem cell therapy is augmented when combined with white blood cells, which carry out the immune response, and growth factors, which accelerate the rebuilding of tissues.
Since mesenchymal (stem) cells are autologous, meaning they are taken from the patient, there is no risk of rejection. This process is quite different than when compared to a bone marrow treatment, which contains some mesenchymal cells, but also contains hematopoietic cells that generate our blood cells, but do not generate tissue.
Depending on the severity of the condition, Kinetic Regenerative Therapy may be recommended. KRT is a proactive combination approach using prolotherapy, stem cells, and PRP. With KRT, Dr. Greenberg will not just address the damaged joint, but will biomechanically evaluate everything connected to that joint to provide a comprehensive repair. KRT is an excellent alternative to pain management and surgery, as it creates a roadmap for joint regeneration that solves the root of the problem rather than just the symptoms.
Joint Pain Treatments: The Bottom Line
No matter the severity or chronicity of the pain, regenerative medicine holds the promise of relieving pain, improving function, and restoring quality of life. A Comprehensive Kinetic Diagnosis can identify the root cause of the pain by evaluating the kinetic chain of movement of the joints in the body. For example, if you experience knee pain, Dr. Greenberg will evaluate the movement and function of the back, hips, knee, and ankle to rule out other conditions that may be contributing to the pain. We also find that most patients have a tilted pelvis which also contributes to faulty biomechanics – and our treatment will immediately correct it.
If you have been recommended corticosteroid injections and/or surgery, schedule a consultation with Greenberg Regenerative Medicine today. Our holistic, integrative approach heals patients using natural, regenerative compounds, helping them achieve life-long stability and relief, combined with board and hospital certified care you can trust.