Orthobiologics and Orthopaedic Care

Image Credit: Alice Pien, MD 

Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo 

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body. It is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”- John F. Kennedy

What are Biologics? 

Biologics is a therapeutic method that utilizes the body’s natural elements in order to enhance its own healing. These substances are often extracted from the body, concentrated and then reinjected to the desired healing site in order to accelerate the restoration of that part of the body. Utilizing the body’s own healing mechanisms, new cells such as bone, cartilage or even blood vessels can be regenerated or regrown. 

Regenerative medicine is a field that is facilitating the maximization of the body’s physical ability and improving the quality of life of patients. With life spans increasing with time, keeping the body in good condition will be critical to the enjoyment of life. One critical enhancer to human restoration is platelet-rich plasma. This plasma is generated from the body’s own blood supply and enables the natural growth factors embedded in the plasma to heal relevant tissues in the body. This tissue can include cartilage, a critical component of human joint systems. 

How Is The Plasma Obtained?

The human circulatory system consists of an ever flowing blood stream. The plasma is the liquid portion of the blood. Other constituents that are suspended in the blood include red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The platelet as a component of the blood is a type of blood cell that is able to facilitate healing of the body. When there is a cut the platelets are what accumulate in order to generate the clot, that finally heals into the renewed skin. The significance of the platelets then cannot be underestimated. The platelet activation process is key to the body’s healing mechanisms. The protein growth factors are also embedded in the platelet structure. 

Via centrifugation extractive processes, the plasma (known as protein rich plasma or PRP) can be obtained. With a higher concentration of platelets than the blood, the healing abilities of the PRP can be optimized from 5 to 10 times the normal healing mechanisms. The healing process is therefore catalyzed. 

Mechanism of Activation

With the PRP extracted from the patient’s blood, the extracted components are then injected into the sites of healing, in order to accelerate the healing of those sites. For patients who are experiencing injuries in their tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints, PRP injections are one of the primary methods that the therapy can be applied to heal the body. Many athletes are actually the recipients of PRP injections and they have proven to be very effective in the process of restoring musculoskeletal problems. 

According to the severity of your condition, PRP injection treatments may take up to one or several tubes of your platelets. When applied to the body’s injured tissues, the growth factors then start the process of catalyzing healing and increasing the production of the body’s healing mechanisms. 

During the process of administering the injection, ultrasound imaging is often utilized in order to gain a picture of what is happening in the internal system. With the ultrasound image, your orthopaedic surgeon will be able to see directly into the tendon and facilitate the guidance of the plasma to the appropriate site in the joint. A variety of ailments have been relieved via the PRP mechanism, particularly for persons with conditions such as tendonitis. 

With the ability of the body to heal itself naturally, the utilization of medication such as anti-inflammatory agents or opioids can be eradicated. As an agent that is produced by your own body, the PRP is one product that your body will readily accept because it is natural to your own system.

Factors That Influence PRP Administration 

PRP effectiveness is currently being studied for a more quantifiable effect on the patients that are treated. The current effectiveness is a variable parameter that is currently being investigated. In terms of studies that are currently being focused on, the parameters of focus include: 

  1. Area of the injured site
  2. Patient Health and Physical Fitness 
  3. Extent of the Injury 

In some instances, PRP is extremely effective during surgical processes, in order to heal tissues post operation. During shoulder surgeries, patients with torn rotator cuff tendons are now being injected with PRP. Surgical procedures with the treatment of anterior cruciate ligament are also currently being investigated.

Talk to your orthopaedic surgeon if you feel that PRP therapy will be beneficial to your healing. 

Article References: 

  1. HSS: Platelet Rich Plasma: https://bit.ly/3dPGS3f
  2. Orthoinfo: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/platelet-rich-plasma-prp
  3. FootcareMD: https://www.footcaremd.org/conditions-treatments/injections-and-other-treatments/biologics

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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