5 Reasons You Could Be A Candidate For Regenerative Medicine

The five best times to consider regenerative medicine as a treatment for pain.

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What is regenerative medicine?

Regenerative medicine is defined as the process of replacing or "regenerating" injured or broken down human tissue in order to restore it's normal function. Below are the five best times to consider regenerative medicine as a treatment for pain.

5 Reasons You Could Be a Candidate

  • I have spine arthritis
  • I need a short recovery for work
  • I need a short recovery for exercise
  • Surgical risks are too high
  • I'm not a surgical candidate

1. Spine arthritis

Numerous scientific articles support the use of stem cell therapy and platelet rich plasma (PRP) for the treatment of spine arthritis, also called degenerative disc disease. Additional studies support the use of regenerative medicine in other joints such as the knees, hips, and shoulders.

From 2015 to 2017, three large scale review articles demonstrated a noticeable benefit when using regenerative therapies like platelet rich plasma for arthritis related to aging. The study conclusions are bulleted below:

  • Platelet-rich plasma improved function and pain scores for knee arthritis (1)
  • Platelet-rich plasma improved pain scores for knee arthritis at 3, 6, and 12 months (2,3)


Best for patients with mild to moderate arthritis (4)

Although there is growing evidence supporting regenerative medicine in patients with severe arthritis, patients with mild to moderate arthritis, i.e., patients who are treated during the earlier phases of arthritis have better outcomes. A 2016 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Orthopedic Surgery and Research evaluated 60 individual studies and found the following variables to correspond to best treatment outcomes: earlier stages arthritis, low body mass index, and younger age (defined as treatment in a patient under the age of 60).

2. Getting back to work

Usually, six weeks to five months of recovery is required to return to work after large back surgeries such as spinal fusion, laminectomy, and discectomy. For people whose jobs require physical activity, recovery can be even longer, ranging from five months to six months. Large surgical incisions that involve the skin and the underlying musculature can take up to 8 weeks to heal. For many patients, not working for this long may mean the difference between financial solvency and bankruptcy. Stem cell and platelet-rich plasma injections require minimal post-procedure recovery as no surgical incision is made. Patients go home the same day as their procedure and can return to their previous level of activity the following day. Truly noticeable improvement in function and pain scores usually begin after a few months and reaches maximum effectiveness after one year.

3. Getting back to exercise

Exercise is a major outlet of stress reduction and social activity. For surgeries with large surgical incisions that cause significant tissue damage, it can take weeks to months to return to baseline function which can cause stress and a sense of isolation, particularly in those who are athletically driven. Minimally invasive procedures such as stem cell and platelet-rich plasma injections do not require surgical incisions; therefore, almost no damage occurs to the soft tissues. Baseline function usually returns the day after the procedure. Improvements above baseline usually begin within weeks and reach maximum effectiveness after one year.


If you think about large surgical incisions, often the skin (dermis) and underlying muscle belly are cut. Unfortunately, damage to musculature is often unavoidable based on the procedure and patient's unique anatomy.

4. Surgical Risks

Complications are a known risk of surgical procedures and do occasionally occur. The risk of a surgical complication is dependent on the skill of the surgeon, the hospital or surgery center where the operation is performed, the type of surgery performed, and the health of the patient before surgery.


A 2015 study evaluated 95 patients undergoing spine surgery and found the major complication rate (complications requiring additional surgery) to be approximately 7% (5).

Minimally invasive procedures pose very small procedural risks. For example, the procedural complication rate for image-guided stem cell (SC) or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are estimated to occur in less than 1% of patients. However, it is important to verify the quality of any regenerative medicine clinic as wide quality differences exist between facilities.

5. Non-surgical candidates

Many times, surgery is considered unsafe in patients with co-existing medical problems such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or congestive heart failure. In these instances, the increased risk of surgery is often unrelated to the surgery itself but instead is related to the risk of general anesthesia, i.e., requiring mechanical ventilation or a breathing tube. Because image-guided injections are significantly less painful and stressful to the body, almost always, general anesthesia is not required. For this reason, image-guided injections are safe in many patients who are too sick for surgery.

What's Next?

If you fall into one of the above categories, regenerative medicine could be helpful. The first step is to receive an evaluation by a medical specialist to determine if regenerative medicine is likely to be effective for you. If you are likely to benefit from regenerative therapies, the next step is to make sure you find a trusted and verified regenerative medicine clinic as treatment response is related to the quality of doctor, technique, and preparation. Helped helps patients understand their best treatment option from the comfort of home. You can receive a free consult from a Helped care coordinator today.

April 25, 2022
Eric DePopas, Co-Founder & Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Eric DePopas, MD

Chief Medical Officer
Vascular & Interventional Radiologist

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