Regenerative medicine is uniquely interesting because it’s on the cutting edge of medicine, and we’ve had some outstanding results,” said Dr. Ryan Workman, interventional pain management specialist at Desert Pain’s Cedar City clinic. Desert Pain Specialists is a team of board-certified physicians seeking to improve quality of life for the Southern Utah community through innovative pain management solutions. For those struggling with chronic pain or injuries, regenerative medicine can provide lasting relief without the battery of negative side effects linked to many medications.
Regenerative medicine is a non-pharmacologic injection methodology for treating damage and injury to the body and providing pain relief. More commonly used treatments like cortisone injections elevate blood sugars and increase the risk of bone demineralization, Workman said, adding that these and other potentially harmful side effects have not been observed with regenerative procedures.
“The advantage of regenerative medicine is that the side effects are minimal,” he said. “People may have injection site pain or soreness in the joint temporarily.”
While many pain management techniques are effective at temporarily relieving discomfort and inflammation, regenerative treatments at Desert Pain use tissues with the goal of stimulating the body’s natural healing capability to repair or replace damaged tissue. They can be injected wherever they’re needed, and Desert Pain patients have a few different options for the type of treatment.
However, Workman said his team strives to educate patients on the purpose of regenerative medicine, not just the procedure itself. At Desert Pain, patients understand what to expect before, during and after treatment to ensure there will be no surprises along the way.
From amniotic allografts to platelet-rich plasma
Amniotic tissue allografts may help patients with both acute and chronic pain. Harvested after a mother has delivered a healthy baby, amniotic tissues can include placental tissue, umbilical cord and amniotic fluid, all of which contain high concentrations of growth-promoting hormones.
Desert Pain has been performing amniotic tissue allografts for more than three years. All tissue undergoes a screening process to reduce risk of infection.
The specialists at Desert Pain also utilize mesenchymal stem cells to treat athletic injuries. Found in bone marrow, these stem cells are selected for their ability to develop into skeletal tissues such as cartilage. When injected into a patient, they can assist the body in regrowing missing or damaged tissue. Desert Pain does not use embryonic stem cells, Workman said.
Another procedure for athletic injuries involves platelet-rich plasma injections. Unlike other regenerative procedures, this treatment use a patient’s own cells to repair damaged tissue. This method is used at Desert Pain to treat tennis and golfer’s elbow, along with shoulder, knee and ankle injuries. Chronic low back pain sufferers have also found relief from injections in the joints next to their spine.
During this treatment, blood is drawn and processed in a centrifuge. Only the plasma is extracted and then injected into the injured joint.
“Platelets are our body’s healing cells,” Workman said, “and they create an environment where they send out regenerative cytokines and other factors which draw the body’s own healing mechanisms to the site of injection.”
Workman said patients often enjoy significant improvement in both pain level and joint function following a platelet-rich plasma injection.
All of the physicians at Desert Pain have completed fellowship training in both acute and chronic pain management, and with the help of their skilled nursing staff, they are willing to spend as much time with each patient as necessary in order for them to feel comfortable.
“Desert Pain is a caring community,” he said. “We worry about our patients and want them to have the best experience possible.”
About Desert Pain Specialists
Desert Pain Specialists is Southern Utah’s premier interventional pain management team. The doctors and the entire staff are dedicated to helping patients find relief from their pain. Their state-of-the-art facility in St. George allows them to offer unmatched quality of care for their patients.