Your body is designed to heal itself after minor injuries or surgery. Sometimes, however, it needs a little help. Our orthopedic surgeons at GPOA harness the power of orthobiologics to speed recovery times and boost natural healing through regenerative medicine.
What Are Orthobiologics?
Orthobiologics are specific substances that orthopedic surgeons use to encourage faster healing of injuries. They help improve the healing of broken bones as well as injured soft tissue like ligaments, muscles and tendons. They are made from substances found naturally within your body. Used in high concentrations by surgeons, they work to speed up the body’s natural healing process.
What Role Do They Play in the Healing Process?
There are three main categories of orthobiologics: growth factors, extracellular matrix, and stem cells. Each plays a unique and very specific role in the healing process. During your treatment, our surgeons may opt to use multiple substances to promote natural tissue repair and support your injured bones.
Growth factors are special proteins that regulate the rate and effectiveness of healing throughout your body. There are orthobiologic procedures that provide large doses of growth factors to injury sites. Some speed it up so you can recover faster. Others slow it down, which may be necessary for certain situations.
Natural growth factors attract stem cells to enter the area; a process known as chemoattraction. Our surgeons can increase the amount of growth factor at your injury site in order to encourage an increase in stem cells and speed up the healing process.
Platelet Rich Plasma
An increasingly popular option, this is where we draw blood from you, isolate the plasma, and then reinject that into your injured tissue. The increase of platelets, which are rich in growth factors, stimulates tissue growth and natural healing of injuries.
Extra-cellar matrices or ECMs are a type of orthobiologic that serves as a scaffold for other tissue. These are placed into areas with severe damage to bones as a means to provide structure and stability. They serve as a shell for stem cells to inhabit. Those cells are what spurs healing and regrowth within the injured site.
Bone grafts are a common ECM material. They are often taken from bones in another area of your own body. Cadaver bone is used in certain situations where your own bone cannot be safely harvested.
Non-bone materials can also be used to provide support. The most common is calcium phosphate. When placed in large voids within bones, it develops a texture and strength similar to natural bone. This can encourage stem cells to enter the structure and develop into mature cells.
Both allografts with cadaver bones and artificial matrix materials reduce pain and recovery time for patients since they do not require an additional surgical procedure to harvest one tissue.
The powerhouse of your body’s repair processes, stem cells are basically immature cells. They have the ability to develop into any cell within the body based on how they are activated by their surroundings. That makes them incredibly versatile and suitable for repairing any portion of the body. They can become muscle, ligament, bone, or tendon cells depending on where they are placed.
Most stem cell therapies involve extracting dormant stem cells from your bone marrow. These are then injected in high concentrations back into your body, directly into the injured tissue. Some patients use donor stem cells that are treated to avoid rejection.
What Conditions Can Orthobiologic Treatments Help With?
Most injuries that will require extensive healing can benefit from using an orthobiologic treatment. It is also a useful tool if you have an injury that can be healed without surgery.
Partial tears of muscles or tendons can often benefit from platelet-rich plasma injections. These attract stem cells and encourage tissue growth. An example would be using PRP therapy in place of surgery for a partial rotator cuff tear.
On the other hand, full tears can potentially be repaired with an orthobiologic patch. This would serve as a matrix for your body to utilize during the rebuilding process after surgery.
Stem cell therapy can be used to target hard to reach areas where there is damage to tissue, such as the cartilage in your neck and spine.
What Are the Benefits of Using Orthobiologics?
Where this technology was once only available to the very wealthy, it is now commonly practiced. At GPOA in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, we use orthobiologics to provide our patients with state-of-the-art medical technology that can improve their recovery process. It often helps shorten recovery time. It may also help you avoid a more invasive surgical procedure by encouraging your body to heal itself.
Who Should Consider Them?
The decision to use orthobiologics, whether in place of or in addition to surgery, should be made between you and one of our orthopedic surgical specialists. It will be based on your medical history, the type and location of your injury and several other factors. Some general indications that it may be a good choice include:
- You are looking to try a minimally-invasive treatment before moving on to surgery
- Your injury left voids in bone tissue that need support
- You are not healing properly and need additional stimulation of the process
Learn How Orthobiologics Can Help You Heal
If you are ready to learn more about how orthobiological medicine can help your body heal, we welcome the opportunity to share that information with you. Contact GPOA to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons to find out if you can benefit from a natural, regenerative treatment. GPOA conveniently has several offices in the Pittsburgh area.