Truths About Regenerative Medicine
Feb 27, 2020 11:16PM
By Annalise Combs
Truths About Regenerative Medicine
by Sheila Julson
Dr. John East is a doctor of osteopathic medicine, board certified in physical medicine, rehabilitation and pain medicine. He developed an interest in pain management during his residency at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Although he has practiced pain management—a subspecialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation—since 2002, he rebranded his practice as Addison Pain & Regenerative Medicine to reflect the emphasis and addition of regenerative medicine solutions.
East’s primary regenerative treatment options consist of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and bone marrow aspirate. East uses PRP therapy to treat musculoskeletal issues that include orthopedic conditions affecting the joints and the spine. Blood is taken from a patient’s arm, placed in a centrifuge and spun at a very high rate, which separates the components into red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma. “The plasma contains a lot of growth factors, or large proteins, that contribute to many aspects of cellular healing, along with molecules called cytokines,” he explains, which is then injected into the injured joint or tissue. “The PRP injection gets all the nutrition into the structure. It’s like adding fertilizer to soil.”
East says regenerative methods like PRP differ from traditional interventional methods; with traditional pain management, oral anti-inflammatories are often used, and come with a host of potential side effects, such as suppressing adrenal gland function and only temporarily reducing inflammation and pain. “With an anti-inflammatory, you’re just putting a Band-Aid over the problem. Nothing is being done to promote the healing process,” he says.
Bone marrow has a very similar concentration and same types of growth factors as PRP, East says, but it also contains many types of cells, including stem cells. Bone marrow taken from one joint will not take the form of other cells when injected into a problem joint. “Every joint and tissue in your body has stem cells inside called tissue resident stem cells, so you already have the stem cells that are needed. They are just quiet and need to be woken up. Our joints have limited blood supply, and nutrition to the joints is not abundantly supplied with growth factors like cytokines that help active resident stem cells. What the bone marrow cells do when injected is function like a football coach that is coordinating and directing the players—the growth factors, and cytokines other important molecules.”
Regenerative medicine therapies are performed right in East’s office. He says some patients may experience moderate soreness for a day or two after the injection, but then can return to normal activities. He notes that opinions vary regarding what constitutes a good candidate for regenerative medicine, but he believes the milder the injury, the better the chances are to get positive outcomes from regenerative medicine.
He also says there are a lot of misconceptions about regenerative medicine, the main one being that patients think that after getting a single treatment, they will be restored to a youthful level of vitality. Depending on the case, one treatment or several might be needed to achieve the desired outcomes. If the problem is more severe, there may be no improvement at all.
East emphasizes that his primary goal when treating patients is to not only help them get out of pain, but to also improve their quality of life. He advises patients to do their homework when considering regenerative treatments and get more than one evaluation to compare opinions and prices.
“This is not a standard treatment, and it’s not covered by insurance. There can be considerable differentiation in the cost and price for a provider,” he advises. “I’m not a big fan of placental and umbilical cord products because they’re typically cryopreserved, which means the cells are frozen. When those cells are unfrozen, the real question is how many of the cells are still alive—the real answer is that we don’t know, so you may be getting a product that has nothing in it.”
East also promotes yoga as a form of regenerative medicine. Because yoga styles such as yin promote breathwork, he says that breathing delivers oxygen to the body and helps activate stem cells. Yin yoga also involves stretches which help lengthen fascia. “Many restrictions in movement are linked to fascia restrictions, so I think everybody needs to do yoga—orthopedic injury or not,” he advises.
Addison Pain & Regenerative Medicine is located at 16333 Dallas Pkwy., Ste 150, in Addison. For more information, call 972-380-0000 or visit AddisonPain.com.