What are Orthobiologics?
Orthobiologics are natural substances such as cells, blood components and growth factors that are typically used to speed up the healing of damaged tissues such as bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Orthobiologics may be obtained from your own body or a donor and are usually administered in the form of injections. They can be used in the treatment of many orthopedic conditions including wrist injuries.
Significance of Orthobiologics
Your body can repair most injuries by itself. However, with severe injuries or with advancing age, your body’s repair process may find it difficult to keep up with the damage done.
Your wrists are normally used for various activities and are prone to wear and tear. Over time, the damage to your wrists can get worse unless the body’s repair system is somehow enhanced. Orthobiologics can help boost your body’s repair system offering fast and efficacious healing naturally.
Types of Orthobiologics
There are three main types of orthobiologics:
- Cell therapy: These are a concentrate of specialized cells derived from the bone marrow or abdominal fat of the body. They have the ability to differentiate into other cell types to regenerate tissue.
- PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma): PRP is derived from your blood which is drawn, collected and spun at high speeds in a centrifuge machine to separate out the platelets and plasma components.
- Matrix (conductive materials): These are natural bone grafts obtained from the patient or a donor and function as a medium in which new bone grows. It is used when there is a gap as a result of significant bone loss.
Of all the types, cell therapy has the greatest potential for promoting healing. This therapy is increasingly being used in the treatment of wrist injuries and conditions and may be considered as an alternative to wrist surgery.
Indications for Cell Therapy
You may be a candidate for cell therapy if you:
- Have suffered a wrist injury, present or past
- Have failed traditional or conventional treatments and surgery is being considered
The Spectrum of Cell Therapy
Cell therapy can be utilized to treat a wide range of wrist injuries and conditions including:
- Osteoarthritis: Degeneration of your wrist joint cartilage and the underlying bone due to wear-and-tear, resulting in pain and stiffness in the wrist
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Narrowing of carpal tunnel and compression of the median nerve due to repeated use of your wrist at work or play leading to pain, numbness or tingling and weakness in the hand
- Broken wrists: Minor fractures in your wrist caused by falls, sports activities or motor vehicle crashes
Concept of Cell Therapy
Specialized cells are present in all of us that act like a repair system for the body. The purpose of cell therapy is to make use of these cells to aid in the natural regeneration of the injured or damaged tissues such as bone, muscle or tendon.
When these cells are injected into your injured wrist, they begin to divide, grow and subsequently develop into the kind of cells needed for repair thus accelerating the healing process.
Where are These Cells Obtained From?
There are many sources of these specialized cells in your body. The most important source is bone marrow located in the center of long bones and the pelvic bones from where they are usually derived as this region has the highest concentration of these cells.
However, these cells may also be harvested from natural fat deposits in your body such as the abdomen. Your doctor will choose the right source depending on your requirement and condition.
The Procedure of Cell Therapy
The procedure usually takes about half an hour depending on several factors. It is performed under local anesthesia.
During the procedure:
- The area from where the cells are to be harvested is cleaned and numbed.
- Using a special needle and syringe, fluid containing the cells is drawn from the source.
- The fluid obtained is then spun in a centrifuge machine for 10 to 15 minutes.
- This process helps obtain a concentrated layer of the specialized cells which is to be used.
- The injured area in your wrist is thoroughly cleaned and numbed.
- The specialized cells are then injected into the damaged tissue under image guidance.
A highly sophisticated ultrasound instrument with enhanced needle visualization is typically used for the precise delivery of these cells. You will usually return home on the same day.
If a donor has provided the specialized cells required for cell therapy, the sample is tested and treated to ensure that it will not create an immune or allergic reaction in the patient.
Benefits of Cell Therapy
- Simple, minimally invasive outpatient procedure
- No hospitalization or frequent hospital visits
- Nearly pain-free or no pain procedure
- Little to no risk of rejection or infection (if obtained from your body)
- Faster healing and full, long-lasting recovery (in most cases)
- Improved wrist mobility and functionality naturally
Cell therapy is a new-generation, advanced technique with many potential applications. It has shown promising results in the treatment of wrist injuries and conditions.