Regenerative Injection Therapy (RIT) is a term for several natural injection treatments that are used to restore injured tissue like joints, ligaments and tendons. Regenerative injection therapies include stem cell therapy, PRP therapy, prolozone, and prolotherapy – minimally-invasive injection procedures that stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms to repair chronically damaged ligaments, tendons and fibrocartilage.
Stem Cell vs Platelet-Rich Plasma vs Prolotherapy: What’s the Difference?
There are three main types of regenerative injection therapies that wellness practitioners use to treat both old and new tissue injuries:
Stem Cell Injections
Stem cell therapy involves injecting a stem cell solution to the site of an injured joint or tendon. Ethically-sourced, non-embryonic stem cells, most often taken from the patient’s own body are used. Because stem cells are able to differentiate, self-proliferate over time and attract growth factors to the injury, they are able to restore traumatized tissues even on older injuries.
Platelet-rich-plasma therapy is similar to stem cell injections, in that, healing factors from the patient’s own body are used to boost the body’s healing abilities. In PRP therapy, blood is extracted and put through a centrifuging process that separates the platelets from the red and white blood cells. This platelet-plasma concentrate is then injected to the injured site, the idea being that the combination of irritation + introduction of a super-dose of healing and growth factors = restarting and supporting the body’s healing program, regenerating damaged or weakened tissue.
In prolotherapy, a non-active, natural solution is injected at the painful site in order to re-irritate the damaged tissue. This irritation signals the body to send resources to the site and rerun the healing process there, spurring the growth of new, healthy tissue. Solutions used are often saline, dextrose or lidocaine.
The goal of each of these RITs is to restore and regenerate head-to-heal tissue injuries for permanent pain relief, which also serves to protect the area from eventually developing arthritis. We have seen great success with all three of these options at our health and wellness centers, offering patients safe, effective alternatives to surgeries for painful shoulders, knees, hips and even carpal tunnel.
What Do We Know About the Safety & Efficacy of Regenerative Injection Therapies?
While current research on these holistic methods of healing traumatized joints and ligaments is just beginning to uncover the details of how and why regenerative injection therapies work, the evidence is that it works is already there. Believe it or not, the first ever RIT was used in the 19th century, and prolotherapy was invented back in the 1950’s.
The thing about regenerative injections, at base, is that there is simply no other body of treatments in modern medicine that offers the restorative potential these therapies do. What’s more, because the solutions are created from natural, bio-compatible or autologous ingredients, risks of complications from rejection or adverse immune response are as scarce as risks can be in medicine.
Clinical research in tissue generation and engineering is demonstrating that all three of these regenerative injection therapies have the potential to revolutionize how we deal with hard-to-heal injuries and degenerative bone and joint conditions. And, at this stage, it looks like we only understand the tip of the iceberg, as far as what these treatments have to offer.
Understanding the Mechanism behind Regenerative Injection Therapy
In RIT the damaged ligament or tendon is injected with a substance that either directly or indirectly causes a small amount of local tissue irritation or inflammation. The resulting inflammation triggers the body’s natural repair processes to strengthen the existing tissue and to enhance the growth of new tissue.
When other substances are injected, like platelet-rich plasma, stem cells, substrates (building blocks for collagen synthesis), and growth factors (chemical messengers that promote the healing response), they support the body’s response to the irritant with extra healing resources.
Regenerative injection therapies don’t work in exactly the same way with every patient, and patient health and injury severity also affect the outcome. But you can’t ignore the potential body of permanent restorative benefits these treatments offer, especially when weighed against the extremely-limited risks and discomfort that comes with them.
If you’re suffering from a chronic pain condition, including torn tendons, scoliosis, piriformis syndrome, arthritis, and more, don’t skip right to surgeries and pain medications – ask a local practitioner of regenerative medicine about injection therapies for healing the source of your pain.