Updated: Mar 4
Regenerative medicine as a treatment for osteoarthritis is no longer considered extreme. Clinicians are routinely receiving regenerative medicine training before returning to their practices to offer stem cell and PRP injections as an alternative to drug replacement surgeries, steroid injections, and pain medication. Interestingly enough, doctors do not necessarily have to choose one treatment or the other. There is good reason to believe that combining stem cell and PRP injections helps some patients.
A case study published by the Mayo Clinic demonstrates the effectiveness of combining the two treatments. That case involved an 83-year-old patient who began receiving injections back in 2015. Her doctors decided to combine bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC) with PRP injections after the PRP alone did not provide adequate pain relief.
Hundreds of Patients Being Treated
The patient involved in the case study was part of a larger group of more than 400 patients being given both PRP and BMAC injections at the clinic’s Rochester, Minnesota campus. According to researchers, “current scientific literature indicates that between 40 and 70 percent of individuals who receive this treatment find some level of pain relief.”
The Mayo Clinic is confident in administering both procedures for people suffering from osteoarthritis pain. Though they acknowledge that the procedures do not work for every patient, they are seeing a very good success rate. Some patients receive one treatment or the other while others are receiving both.
As for the case study subject, she was able to leave the campus a few hours after treatment with the aid of a knee brace and crutches. A week after the treatment, she indicated a return to her previous level of activity without the need of the crutches or knee brace and with less pain. The patient’s goal was to return to what she considered a normal activity level prior to her osteoarthritis inhibiting her. She was able to do just that.
Extraction and Preparation
The Mayo Clinic case study doesn’t provide a tremendous amount of detail about how the material was extracted and prepared, but the information offered is enough to suggest that clinicians were using pretty standard procedures. The PRP injections began with a blood draw from the patient’s arm followed by processing in a centrifuge. The resulting material was then injected at the treatment site. We assume the clinic utilized something similar to the PRP injection kits we carry.
BMAC material was extracted from the patient’s pelvic bone. It was processed in the centrifuge and injected into the patient’s joint. Again, we assume something similar to one of our stem cell injection kits was used. What is not clear is whether the injection sites for both preparations were near or at the same location.
Overall Patient Health
It is interesting to note that the Mayo Clinic researchers believe that overall patient health is an indicator of whether regenerative medicine procedures succeed or not. They maintain that healthier patients achieve better results as a result. The assertion makes a lot of sense, given what we know about the link between overall health and other medical procedures.
The Mayo Clinic continues research into multiple areas of PRP and stem cell therapies for osteoarthritis. One of their studies involves ‘purified stem cells’ while another is comparing traditional PRP treatment with a unique bone marrow stem cell treatment specifically for arthritis in the knee. We await the results of both studies.
In the meantime, the clinic makes a case for combining current stem cell and PRP injections. The dual treatments are helping patients live better lives.