Healthy Minute: Avoid Surgery With Orthobiologics & Stem Cells

Orthobiologics derive from substances like plasma and bone marrow that naturally occur in your body.  Medical professionals are increasingly using orthobiologics in an injectable form to relieve pain and promote healing. Learn more about orthobiologic treatment from Dr. Jason Sullivan, an orthopaedic surgeon at DMOS Orthopaedic Center.

What orthobiologics are available at DMOS and what are their uses?

DMOS offers three types of orthobiologic injections, all used to treat different musculoskeletal conditions. These include arthritis, muscle strains, as well as tendon and ligament injuries such as tennis elbow and hamstring tears.

  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) is a protein-rich substance created from your own blood. PRP injections can help jump-start the healing process. Research shows PRP has synergistic effects when used together.
  • Autologous Protein Solution (APS) is also created from your blood and has been proven to lessen the pain from knee osteoarthritis.
  • Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate (BMAC) derive from your growth factors and cells, including stem cells. BMAC injections can be very effective in pain relief.

What is the treatment process like?

An orthobiologic injection is an outpatient procedure. It will take about an hour from the time you arrive at the clinic until you’re ready to go home. Your doctor will first “harvest” the needed substances from your body. For PRP and APS injections, this is done by simply drawing blood and spinning the blood in a centrifuge to bring out the desired substances. For BMAC injections, this involves drawing bone marrow from your pelvis, while under local anesthetic.

What does the recovery process entail?

The recovery timeframe for orthobiologic injections is generally about four to six weeks. This is much shorter than for surgery. Depending on your condition, during the recovery period, you will have follow-up visits with your doctor. You may also receive physical therapy. A brace or sling might be provided as well to help restrict movement and aid in your recovery.

How do I know if orthobiologic injections are right for me?

Your doctor will assess your condition and help determine the best treatment option which can include surgery, orthobiologic injection, another type of non-surgical intervention, or a combination of treatments.

“There’s so much great potential for this treatment approach,” Sullivan said. “We can now help heal conditions non-surgically that would have required surgery in the past. As research evolves and we learn how to use orthobiologics in new ways, there’s no telling what we’ll be able to do. I encourage anyone with an orthopaedic injury to come meet with us and determine if orthobiologic injections are a good option for them.”