Forget bed rest and cortisone shots; here are 3 regenerative medicine therapies that can treat chronic pain

Photo by wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

FEATURE — Most pain conditions involve injury, overuse or typical wear and tear on the musculoskeletal system – the bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and spine. However, while these conditions were formerly treated with a combination of rest, rehabilitation, medications, cortisone injections and surgery, today there are additional options for many of these conditions.

Stem cell, tissue allograft and platelet-rich plasma therapies have the ability to help reduce pain, increase function and potentially heal damaged tissues. Many conditions can be treated with simple in-office procedures, using image guided injections. These treatments should be provided only by a board-certified physician and should never be offered without image guidance to ensure proper placement.

Stem cell therapy

Photo by KittisakJirasittichai/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells have been used for several years and are FDA approved. These stem cells are typically harvested from the bone marrow and then reintroduced to the site of interest during a fairly simple office procedure.

Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells are also being used during orthopedic and spine surgeries to help with bone fusions, ligament repairs and cartilage defects. Their use has been shown to be safe and can potentially help reduce pain, increase healing and help to increase function.

Allograft Tissue

Allograft tissues are tissues and cells that are donated from one human being to another and that can be used under FDA approval when used under certain conditions. When used for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain conditions, the tissues and cells are typically donated from amniotic, placental and cord tissue from live births. These tissues are then screened for infection and cleared for use in others.

These products contain various amounts of cells, growth factors and tissue scaffolding that can effectively treat many musculoskeletal pain conditions.

Platelet-rich plasma 

Stock image, St. George News

Platelet-rich plasma is plasma that is isolated from the patient’s own blood. This plasma contains a highly concentrated amount of platelets not normally present. Platelets naturally flow throughout the blood stream and function to help stop bleeding. They also signal to the other immune cells to help heal damaged tissue and can help reduce pain.

Platelet-rich plasma is prepared by a centrifugation process after a simple blood draw. The plasma is then immediately used to treat the area of interest. Platelet-rich plasma has been shown to be effective at treating various tendon, muscle and some joint conditions.

A patient at Southwest Spine and Pain offered the following story about their experience with platelet-rich plasma:

For the past five years I have experienced pain in my left knee and leg. Over time, the pain kept getting worse. My knee would also give out when walking. I saw an orthopedic surgeon who performed laparoscopic surgery to see if he could find the cause. He removed my fat pad thinking this was the cause. The giving out of my knee went away but the pain continued on for four more years. An ultrasound found that I had a patellar tendon tear. I opted to try (platelet-rich plasma) hoping this would fix the tear without having to go through another surgery. After the procedure it took about six weeks for the pain to go away and I was able to be more active. I am now able to hike and climb stairs without pain.

The use of stem cells, allograft tissues, and platelet-rich plasma to treat musculoskeletal conditions should be considered only after a thorough history and physical exam performed by a physician trained to diagnose and treat the conditions of interest and after proper patient consent.

For best results, the physician should also use image guidance during the treatment to ensure proper placement to the desired location.

The physicians at Southwest Spine and Pain have been using regenerative therapies for years and continue to stay at the forefront of stem cell and platelet-rich plasma research and techniques. For questions regarding these therapies or any other pain complaints, the highly trained physicians at Southwest Spine and Pain Treatment Center are willing to help.

Written by DR. BRYT CHRISTENSEN, board certified physical medicine and interventional pain physician.


  • Southwest Spine and Pain in St. George: 652 S. Medical Center Drive, Suite 110 | Telephone 435-656-2424 | Hours: Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  Friday 8 a.m. to noon | Website
  • Other locations
    • St. George: 2107 W Sunset Blvd., Suite 102 | Telephone 435-619-8630 | Hours: Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Hurricane: 25 N. 2000 West, Suite 8 | Telephone 435-635-0174 | Hours: Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Friday 8:30 a.m to 12:30 p.m.
    • Cedar City: 1303 N. Main St. | Telephone 435-586-2229 | Hours: Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to noon
    • Richfield: 70 E. 1000 North, Suite 2C | Telephone 435-586-2229 | By appointment only
    • Logan: 550 E. 1400 North, Suites X & Y | Telephone 435-787-8146 | Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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