How do you lead the exploding orthopedic regenerative-medicine space? You do what few other practitioners do: you publish your results on a regular basis. That’s what we do several times a year, and this morning I’d like you to introduce you to our latest peer-reviewed publication on the use of platelet lysate injected epidurally to treat irritated low-back nerves (radiculopathy).
What Is Radiculopathy?
Nerves exit each level of your low back and travel to the muscles. The discs at each level in your spine can bulge, herniate, or leak irritating chemicals. When this happens the nerve compression or dysfunction can cause numbness, tingling, tightness, or weakness in the leg. The same thing happens in the neck, but this impacts the arms.
What Are the Side Effects of Steroid Epidurals?
The most common way to treat radiculopathy is by injecting high-dose steroids into the space around the nerves, which is called an epidural. Hence, the injection is called an epidural steroid injection, or ESI. These procedures, in my experience, can work to reduce symptoms, but the steroids used have loads of side effects. These include whacking out blood sugar and cortisol levels as well as increasing fracture risk in older women. They also seem to have diminishing positive effects over time. See the video below for why I believe that happens:
Is There a Better Way to Treat Radiculopathy Without Harmful Steroids?
Way back when in 2006, we began a study injecting discs with stem cells, and the carrier we used was platelet lysate. What’s that? To learn more, see the video below:The main advantage of platelet lysate is that it’s anabolic rather than catabolic. This means that it has growth factors that can help things heal rather than high-dose steroids that can destroy tissue by killing cells. Platelet lysate also has anti-inflammatory cytokines, like A2M, IRAP, and TIMPs.
Our Newly Published Data on Platelet Lysate
Our new research paper on platelet lysate epidurals was published this week. It’s registry data on more than 400 treated patients who had lumbar radiculopathy. These patients fared well, just like many patients who get steroid epidurals who have radiculopathy. However, what’s interesting is that these injections seemed to last longer than epidural steroid injections, which is consistent with what we’ve observed clinically as well. For more details about this data, see my AAOM presentation below:
Simple vs. Advanced Platelet Lysates
Anyone can make a simple platelet lysate (PL) by placing platelet rich plasma (PRP) in the freezer overnight. However, this PL will have lower growth-factor levels than an advanced PL. This lab data is contained in the video above. At Regenexx we were the first to use PL clinically and have developed lysates with much higher growth-factor levels. We’re now using our fourth-generation PL.
The upshot? At Regenexx we lead through research. If you’re thinking about going somewhere else for platelet or stem-cell-based treatments, ask them to show you their research leadership. While a handful of clinics can show you a paper or two on what they do, none will show you as much original research on what they do as we have listed on our research page. Finally, most clinics will be able to show you absolutely no research leadership, instead pointing to research done by others who use different techniques.