People who criticize doctors for promoting regenerative medicine as a miracle cure have a point. There is no such thing as a miracle cure – for any disease or injury. Regenerative medicine, like so many other therapies, is a tool for treating certain kinds of injuries and maladies. Osteoarthritis is a good example.
Regenerative medicine is a tool for treating osteoarthritis. It is a tool used to help relieve chronic pain and encourage the body to heal itself of the damage done by the disease. If more people understood this, both PRP and stem cell therapies might receive a warmer reception among doctors, patients, researchers, and even health insurance providers.
Approaching regenerative medicine as a tool changes the way both doctors and patients think. At the Advanced Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) based in Utah, doctors learn how to use both PRP and stem cell therapies to treat osteoarthritis patients. They not only learn the procedures themselves, but also what those procedures can accomplish. Doctors are never told that regenerative medicine is a miracle cure.
Why It Makes a Difference
If a doctor is told, and subsequently believes, that either PRP or stem cell therapy is a miracle cure for osteoarthritis, he is going to approach his patients in a certain way. He is going to give those patients unrealistic expectations about what stem cell and PRP injections will accomplish. As a result, he might be setting up his patients for extreme disappointment.
On the other hand, a doctor who approaches regenerative medicine as another tool in the toolbox looks at things differently. She’s more likely to be circumspect about the fact that regenerative medicine doesn’t work for every patient. And even among those patients who do find relief, individual results may vary. The doctor is more likely to deal with her patients on a more realistic level.
Why does this make a difference? Because patient expectations influence patient outcomes. And in an era in which we are trying so hard to switch from fee-for-service medicine to outcome-based medicine, we need to pay more attention than ever to patient outcomes. Patients need to be satisfied with their treatments if they are to enjoy the best possible results.
Other Tools at the Doctor’s Disposal
It is always unwise for doctors and their patients to have tunnel vision. In other words, focusing on one treatment to the exclusion of all others limits both possibilities and results. A more open-minded approach willing to combine multiple therapies generally offers the best possible outcome.
In terms of using regenerative medicine as a tool for treating osteoarthritis, smart doctors are always willing to combine it with other therapies. Prolotherapy is one example. Prolotherapy is a therapy that involves injecting some sort of irritant into the affected joint in order to stimulate inflammation which, in turn, stimulates the natural healing process.
Another tool involves injecting a lubricant into the affected joint to see how it responds. Depending on that response, the doctor and patient may decide whether to try prolotherapy, regenerative medicine, or something else entirely.
Finally, it is becoming apparent to more and more doctors that regenerative medicine procedures should be combined with physical therapy. The fact is that joints tend to atrophy if they are not used frequently and properly. That only makes chronic pain worse. By combining regenerative medicine and physical therapy, doctors and therapists treat the chronic pain of osteoarthritis while simultaneously strengthening the joint.
No, regenerative medicine is not a miracle cure for anything. It is just one tool that can be used to treat a variety of different conditions.