Last August, I had a great pleasure to attend the 5th Sports & Exercise Medicine Summer Course in Malta, where I presented the topics of regenerative orthopaedics. It was a very good session, with great presentations and discussions. One of them focused on the role of regenerative orthopaedics in sports medicine. Here are some points, important not only for professional athletes but also for all active people who suffer from occasional injuries when playing sports.
Is surgery always the best option?
Surgical intervention is usually tuned for a “quick fix” and quick return to sports. Although it seems tempting to go for a “quick fix”, there are some caveats. First, surgery might be quick but recovery and rehabilitation will take a long time. Secondly, some types of surgery, such as torn meniscus removal, promote fast-developing damage to the knee and early osteoarthritis. So, although an athlete will be able to return to the game fairly quickly, the damage to the joint will continue. We often see former rugby or football players in their early forties, who present with badly damaged joints as a consequence of earlier injuries and surgeries.
What can we treat with regenerative orthopaedics?
Regenerative orthopaedics, i.e. stem cells and platelet rich plasma (PRP) can be effective in a wide range of sport injury conditions, such as tendon injuries, tendonitis, muscle tears and injuries, rotator cuff tears, ligaments tears, tennis and golfer elbow and so on. The main advantage of regenerative orthopaedic over surgery is a shorter recovery time and prevention of further damage. One of the good examples is an ACL tear treated with stem cells, where the normal function of the ligament is restored and preserved. This not only allowed the return to active sport but also reduced the risk of further damage to the joint.
Regenerative orthopaedic is an exciting alternative to surgical treatment for various sport injuries. It applies not only to professional athletes but also to people of all ages who want to enjoy active life and play sports leisurely. In Regenexx, we provide a thorough assessment prior to treatment and we always have an open discussion with our patients regarding treatment options and chances of success. (ZK)