When a person thinks of the health care system, they normally think of preventive care after being injured – or treating an existing chronic condition.
But what if we had the opposite approach to health care, with preventing injuries and health conditions in the first place? Or harnessing your own body’s ability to heal itself rather than taking medicine or having surgery?
These approaches are functional medicine and regenerative medicine, respectively. Let’s talk about what they involve and how they are harnessed in modern medicine.
The Functional Medicine Model
Functional medicine is a preventive approach to maintaining the overall health and well-being of an individual – maintaining the person’s “function.” This approach focuses on preventing the disease from occurring rather than treating disease once it occurs.
It is based on the current research in nutrition, epigenetics, and genomics. As we learn more and more about the human genome, this field has been able to further apply this knowledge to medicine.
The Regenerative Medicine Model
Regenerative medicine is the approach towards medicine that our bodies have the natural ability to heal – or “regenerate” – themselves. The theory behind regenerative medicine is activating these built-in systems by focusing on cellular regeneration and letting the body renew injured tissues at the cellular level.
The two most popular types of regenerative medicine are platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and stem cell therapy. Since these types of therapy use cells that come directly from the patient to treat their own body, they greatly reduce the chance of rejection by the body. Rejection only appears to come as a reaction to the activating agents that may be added to the cells for the therapy, but such a reaction is very rare.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cells are like blank cells in the body. They have the capability to morph into other types of cells that create tissues and organs in the body. They are gathered from either a hipbone punch, to collect stem cells from bone marrow, or a mini-liposuction procedure that harvests the stem cells from our own abdominal (belly) fat.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy
Plasma is the liquid portion of our blood. It continuously carries the white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets throughout the circulatory system to our organs and tissues.
Platelets are known for their role in forming scabs on our skin to heal a wound – the blood carries platelets to the site of an infection or injury for healing anything in our body, not just a wound on the skin. Therefore, platelet-rich plasma is a treatment whereby a doctor takes a sample of the patient’s blood for the purpose of collecting the platelets for use in treatment of that patient.
With a simple blood draw, the patient’s own blood is spun in a centrifuge to separate the platelets. The platelets will then be concentrated, and the concentration – the platelet-rich plasma – is injected at the site of the injury or pain. PRP therapy prompts the body’s own healing mechanisms.
PRP therapy is becoming popular among orthopedic surgeons as a way for patients to be successfully treated for pain and avoid surgery. It has had excellent results in relieving joint pain, especially knee pain.
Orthopedic Physicians in Palm Beach
Regenerative medicine brings new techniques to an already progressive functional medicine approach. When they are used in conjunction, they can offer an entirely new approach to medicine.
If you would like to learn more, contact our team at Personalized Orthopedics of the Palm Beaches by calling (561) 733-5888 or request an appointment online, and let us provide you with exceptional health care that goes beyond expectations!