Which Is Which: PRP And Stem Cell Therapy In Today’s Medicine
We get it. It’s confusing. So much is online, on TV, and in print about platelet rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapy in today’s medical fields. How can the average person separate, to paraphrase author Nate Silver, the signal from the noise? Fact from hype? Which is better: platelet rich plasma treatments or therapies that are stem cell based?
The short answer is: both! But there is a lot more to the story of PRP and stem cell therapy in regenerative medicine. NSI Stem Cell Centers in Florida use both types of therapy, because both have unique, remarkable qualities. Sometimes, only PRP treatment is used, as in certain physical injuries. Various types of knee pain, for example. Sometimes, only stem cell therapy is used, as in certain types of neurological conditions. But PRP and stem cell therapies are far from “rivals.” Often, they join forces to treat a wide array of diseases, injuries, and acute disorders.
So, what are the differences between platelet rich plasma treatment and stem cell therapy in today’s medicine? To answer that, let’s take a closer look at each, and how the development of these regenerative techniques is revolutionizing medical practices across the board.
Stem Cell Therapy In Practical Medicine
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are known for their ability to self-renew and to differentiate into multiple lineage pathways. What does that mean? It means that MSCs are “packets of potential.” They remain in our bodies throughout life, waiting for chemical signals to alert them to the needs of both brain and body. In this service they can become whatever type of cell is needed for repair, re-growth, replacement, and regeneration. This includes cells of skin, bone, cartilage, blood, organs, and brain. It doesn’t matter if the reason is disease, a wound, neurologically based, or even a combination of causes. Stem cell therapy in regenerative medicine is used to address and heal the underlying causes of illness and injury.
There are various types of MSCs, classified according to where the body stores them. But the type that is responsible for the remarkable growth of stem cell therapy in today’s practical medicine is the adipose-derived MSC. Also known as adipose stem cells, they are adult stem cells, meaning that they are among the types of MSCs that remain with us throughout life. The body stores adipose stem cells in the fatty tissue layer that lies just beneath the skin. This fatty tissue is called adipose fat.
But why are adipose-derived MCSs in particular the driving force behind the explosive development of stem cell therapy in medicine? Adipose fat holds a particular abundance of MSCs. So, adipose-derived stem cells are easy to harvest. But they are also an exceptionally potent type of MSC. That means a smaller sample can be taken at harvest.
Harvesting the sample is minimally invasive. This means that the procedure is far easier on the patient. The ease of the harvest and the potency of the adipose MSCs taken together have given rise to a golden age of stem cell therapy in regenerative medicine. Already over twenty treatments have been developed and are in practice as FDA guidelines-compliant procedures. They are available today across the United States at advanced medical clinics like NSI Stem Cell. As research and clinical trials continue to expand, more therapies come online regularly.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) In Practical Medicine
Platelet rich plasma made its popular debut largely through professional sports. When well known athletes like basketball pro Brandon Roy, Masters champion golfer Tiger Woods, baseball star Alex Rodriguez, and tennis champion Rafael Nadal began using PRP to treat their career-related injuries, both the public and the wider medical community at large took note.
Much of the present attention that PRP therapy has received from both the public and the medical community stems from pro athletes being treated for acute injuries related to their sports. These include ligament and muscle injuries. Prior to the development of PRP therapy, the treatment of such injuries relied on medication, physical therapy, or invasive surgery. But as more and more pro athletes began crediting platelet rich plasma with a quicker return to the game, PRP therapy began to be seen as a viable alternative to more invasive procedures.
Whereas the source for stem cell therapy in today’s fastest growing regenerative medicine procedures is adipose fat, platelet rich plasma is derived from the blood. As with adipose-derived MSC therapies, the blood sample does not have to be particularly large. After the sample is drawn, a portion of it undergoes a process call centrifugation.
At the end of the process, the blood has been broken down into its three main components: platelet poor plasma (PPP), platelet rich plasma, and red blood cells. It is the platelet rich plasma that is the basis of all PRP therapies. The centrifugation separates the platelets from the other blood cells and increases their concentration. Then the increased concentration of platelets is combined with the remaining blood that was drawn.
The platelets in PRP play a primary part in the clotting of blood. They are also a rich resource of growth factors. Growth factors play an essential role in wound healing and the process of regeneration. But PRP also releases an abundance of other substances critical in the healing of wounds. PRP augments the creation of blood vessels, improves healing of soft tissues, and enhances the regeneration of bone.
Platelet rich plasma holds a concentration of platelets that is five to ten times the amount of platelets found in blood. Specifically, a platelet is a cell that is disk shaped. Along with red and white blood cells, platelets circulate through the bloodstream. A platelet contains natural growth factors. Among them are proteins and cytokines. When bones or soft tissue -such as tendons or ligaments- are damaged, the growth factors in platelets stimulate healing of bone and soft tissues.
These proteins, cytokines and other growth factors in the PRP provide a number of ways to assist in the repairing of cell damage. They decrease inflammation, improve cell growth, and provide signaling to the immune system. In addition, particular types of cytokines focus on the creation of metabolic pathways that support cell recovery.
PRP treatments are highly effective for relieving acute pain. The success of platelet rich plasma therapy is confirmed by both ultrasound and MRI images, which have shown definitive tissue repair after PRP therapy. PRP therapy is commonly used to address acute pain without resorting to invasive surgical techniques. In the FDA guidelines-compliant procedures practiced at NSI Stem Cell Centers, neither general anesthesia nor overnight hospital stays are necessary. There is also no prolonged recovery time. In general, most people return to their jobs or usual activities right after the procedure.
As with FDA guidelines-compliant stem cell therapy in regenerative procedures, there is no risk of the patient’s immune system rejecting the therapy or any risk of disease transmission. This is because the PRP is made from the patient’s own blood.
In both the case of PRP treatment and stem cell therapy in FDA guidelines-compliant procedures as practiced at NSI Stem Cell Centers, all are done on an out-patient basis. This is largely possible because of the ease of sample harvesting. With no need for highly invasive surgery or general anesthesia, overnight hospital stays are unnecessary. Neither is there any long, post-procedure recovery time involved. Patients can return to their usual, daily activities immediately.
Examples of PRP and Stem Cell Therapies
The list of illnesses, injuries, and conditions that are safely and effectively treated through PRP and/or stem cell therapy in regenerative medicine is already extensive. It includes:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Back Pain/Injury
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
- Joint Pain/Injury
- Kidney Conditions
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD)
- Spinal Cord Injury
In addition, PRP and stem cells are often used as important enhancement aids in the traditional treatment of heart disease, liver disease, stroke, and traumatic brain injury. And great optimism grows among doctors regarding future stem cell therapy in the treatment of some of humankind’s most pressing medical challenges, such as ALS and Alzheimer’s disease.
Where To Find PRP And Stem Cell Therapies Today
Stem cell therapy in medical practice today is no longer something that must be sought outside the United States. NSI Stem Cell Centers in Florida exclusively employs FDA guidelines-compliant therapies in both the fields of stem cell and PRP.
NSI is happy to answer any questions you may have about PRP treatment and stem cell therapy in the U.S. today. A FREE brochure that outlines NSI’s extensive list of procedures is available for download. You many also call (877) 278-3623 or click on the Contact Page. NSI patient success stories can be viewed on NSI’s YouTube channel.
We invite you to explore the exciting paths of PRP and stem cell therapy in today’s medicine. We look forward to hearing from you, and helping you and your loved ones achieve improved quality of life and profound healing.