These are interesting times, an era in which new regenerative medicine is revolutionizing the field of orthopedics. And at the forefront of this revolution are two kinds of alternative therapy that can ease pain and restore patient mobility more safely than surgical methods: Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) and Stem Cells.
These respective treatments are often confused with one another because they seem to have much in common. Equally effective, they nevertheless have distinct differences worth noting.
Similar Treatment, Different Source
One of the easiest ways to distinguish between stem cells and PRP is that Platelet Rich Plasma is derived from the patient’s own blood, which is then separated at high speeds, resulting in a serum with a higher concentration of growth and healing factors that can be injected into the injured area being treated.
Cells used for stem cell therapy, on the other hand, can come from a variety of sources. Pluripotent stem cells can be isolated from human embryos or fetal tissue. These are the most often used since the cells are unspecialized and can be multiplied by biologists into specialized cells. Non-embryonic stem cells have been identified in many human adult organs and tissues.
Stem cells are a fundamental part of the body’s normal healing process. They can be converted into any cell that the body needs. The body utilizes stem cells to substitute for damaged and/or injured cells, thereby allowing natural healing and repair of injured or damaged tissue.
Another key difference between the two is that PRP helps restore – and sometimes accelerates – your body’s existing healing mechanism. Whereas stem cells are not used to enhance healing, but instead to replace tissue that is totally lost.
Which Therapy is Best?
PRP injections performed safely in a medical office only take approximately one to two hours, including preparation and recovery time. They relieve pain in torn ligaments or pain resulting from arthritis, osteoarthritis, or tendonitis without the risk of surgery, general anesthesia, or hospital stays, and without a prolonged recovery time.
Stem cell therapy is also a relatively simple and quick procedure, taking only about 15 minutes. Another advantage of stem cell therapy is that the patient doesn’t have to undergo any type of surgical procedure, local or general anesthesia, or downtime.
A majority of patients who undergo stem cell treatment report a significant improvement within just one to two days and experience a complete restoration of the damaged or injured ligaments, tendons, and cartilage within about 28 days. In addition, stem cell therapy has been proven to be completely safe, with no side effects reported in the U.S. or in Europe.
If you’ve tried traditional treatments such as rest and relaxation, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications, but are still experiencing pain, you may be a candidate for PRP or stem cell therapy.