The more we learn about stem cell injections as a treatment for soft-tissue injuries, the more comfortable doctors are at recommending them. Furthermore, increasing numbers of physicians are undergoing regenerative therapy training so as to be able to offer their patients both stem cell and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments. The key for patients is to go into it with realistic expectations.
Science has known about the healing power of stem cells for generations. Still, there is a lot we don’t understand about regenerative therapies. We know they work for a lot of patients, but we don’t always know why this is the case. We also don’t know why some patients respond well while others do not.
For patients, the most important thing to note is that each one will react differently. One patient being treated for tendon damage may enjoy measurable relief with just one procedure. Another patient might require two or three procedures. Still another might not see any relief at all.
Regenerative Medicine’s Goal
The key to why regenerative medicine works well for some patients but not others may be found in its goals. Simply put, the goal of every regenerative procedure is to assist the body in regenerating damaged or lost tissue. Yet that’s not a static thing.
A good case is a torn ligament. Some people are more prone to ligament tears than others. And when such injuries do occur, patients recover at different rates simply because their bodies are different. We have to assume a similar scenario in regenerative medicine.
At Lone Star Pain Medicine in Weatherford, Texas, doctors have a full range of treatments for addressing pain. Regenerative therapies are but one option. Regardless of the condition and the most appropriate treatment though, the one thing common to all of them is the different responses patients have.
What to Expect from Stem Cell Treatments
Again, the key for patients is having realistic expectations. First and foremost, patients should expect their doctors to fully explain exactly how the procedure is performed. Doctors should also make their prognoses clear. Post-procedure, patient should be prepared for the following:
1. Swelling and Tenderness
Stem cell treatments are injection treatments. They almost always result in temporary swelling and tenderness at the injection site. Patients should expect some pain in the hours and days after the treatment. They should also expect their doctors to recommend against using anti-inflammatories for at least a few days.
Inflammation is actually a good thing from a healing standpoint. It is part of the healing process. Attempting to reduce it only prevents the body from healing the way it is supposed to.
2. Up-And-Down Pain
Natural healing is not a static process. There are days when patients feel good and other days when their pain gets the best of them. This doesn’t change with regenerative therapies. Patients who undergo stem cell procedures should expect an up-and-down healing process until the injury is fully healed.
3. Potential Infection
Though the risks associated with stem cell injections are minimal, there is one risk that accompanies all injections: the risk of infection. Stem cell patients should monitor for a low-grade fever and signs of infection. If infection appears, it is important to consult the doctor right away.
If you have any plans to try stem cell treatments for soft tissue injuries, be sure to sit with your doctor first. Ask every question that comes to mind. Do not agree to the procedure until you have the answers. And whatever you do, go into it with realistic expectations. Stem cell treatments do work for a lot of patients, but they are not a miracle cure.