Orthobiologics is an emerging field of medicine focused on using your own tissue or blood products to help a stubborn injury heal. Commonly referred to as regenerative medicine, stem cell therapy, cell-based therapy, or biologics, it can be used to treat osteoarthritis and chronic soft-tissue injuries such as tendon or ligament tears. In general, these treatments are not covered by insurance.
Within this category of treatments, there are numerous options including:
- Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
- Bone marrow aspirate concentrate (BMAC)
- Adipose-derived stem cells
- Amniotic products
- Exosome therapy
There are varying degrees of evidence behind each of these treatments, so be sure to ask your doctor what may be best for your injury. The most studied and evidence-based treatment is PRP for use in chronic tendon injuries and osteoarthritis. Plasma is what’s left when blood cells are separated from the liquid component of human whole blood. The plasma portion contains numerous biologic factors that have been shown to enhance healing in animal and human studies. Your body naturally recruits platelets and white blood cells from the blood to initiate a healing response. Under normal conditions, platelets store numerous growth factors that are released in response to signals from the injured tissue. When the PRP is injected into the damaged tissue, growth factor release is enhanced so that natural healing is stimulated and accelerated.