Regenerative therapies are a game-changer for modern medicine. Treatments like stem cells and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) use the body’s own healing forces to treat and even cure conditions that previously could only be managed with drugs or fixed with surgery.
Platelets make your blood clot and signal your body to start a cascade of healing responses in an injured area.
Stem cells are cells with the potential to replicate themselves and regenerate tissues. Treatments are considered cutting edge, and more research is still needed, but so far they have proven more powerful than PRP.
Dr. Alexander Kulick, an integrative-medicine and pain-management specialist, said he has seen phenomenal results using a combination of stem cells and PRP to treat advanced cases of osteoarthritis and large tears in rotator cuffs and hamstrings.
For smaller muscle and ligament tears in the knees and shoulders, and conditions like tennis and golfer’s elbow, plantar fasciitis, and back or neck pain, Dr. Kulick says PRP on its own proves highly effective.
“A lot of times people will get 80–90 percent relief with one stem cell or PRP treatment,” he said. “Once in a while, you have to do a second treatment, but that’s pretty [rare].”
These procedures—which take less than an hour—can also save patients from surgery. In particular, he said a lot of knee surgeries could be avoided by using PRP to heal torn cartilage (the meniscus) in the knee joint.
“I’ve never had a failure with PRP in the knee,” he said.
When doing stem cell treatments, Dr. Kulick also uses PRP because the body’s natural healing response requires both—and he’s found them to be more effective when used together.
Besides being the body’s first responders to the site of an injury, platelets also emit growth factors that help stem cells grow new tissue.
He cautions that while stem cells have shown excellent results, they are not yet a wonder cure. For unknown reasons, a small percentage of patients don’t respond well to stem cell injections.
He advises patients to carefully weigh their options and priorities. If you have a condition that’s severe and you definitely want to avoid surgery, then stem cells may be your only option. If your condition is less severe, PRP can probably do the job just fine.
Integrative Medicine and Pain Management
Dr. Alexander Kulick
112 E. 61st St.
New York, NY 10065