We see athletes of all ages in our clinic all of the time. It doesn’t matter if you are 15 or 95, because if you love sports or enjoy an active lifestyle, you don’t want to have to stop because of an injury. Sports injuries from ligament tears, meniscus injuries, tendon injuries, wear and tear, and other soft tissue injuries are common reasons people seek care. In fact, over 90% of athletic injuries involve stretched, torn or weakened soft tissue of some sort. Sports injuries, whether of the ankle, knee, shoulder, hip, or back occur when the repetitive strain of the athletic activity is too much for a particular ligament, tendon, or muscle to perform.
Injury to these soft tissue structures can transpire from a sudden traumatic injury or as a result of accumulative damage over the years. Many are considered an acute exacerbation of a chronic injury. Whether you run 3, 6, 10 miles or even a marathon, ride your bike, participate in martial arts, lift weights, play golf or tennis, the repetitive impact from athletic events can be enough to damage the various soft tissue structures. Over time the joint degenerates as these non-healed soft tissue injuries destabilize the joint.
Doesn’t the body just heal on its own? Unfortunately, not all of these structures heal well on their own. Soft tissue structures like the cartilage, discs, labrum, ligaments, menisci and tendons are whiter in nature, which means they have a poor blood supply. Blood is what nourishes the joint, and therefore, the blood poor structures have a compromised healing ability after injury. These structures aren’t like muscles. You’ve probably noticed when you pull a muscle, or sustain a muscle injury, that in time, it will get better. Why is that? The muscles are red, which means they have a good blood supply and repair more easily.
In order for the joint to function like it should, all of the joint structures, including the white tissue structures, the muscles and the bony structures need to be well. They all work together to stabilize the joint and keep it working optimally, but the ligaments are the primary stabilizing structures. Ligaments are key at maintaining joint health. Unfortunately, ligament injuries are one of the most common causes of pain from sport-related injuries. And they are white tissue structures. Plus, injured ligaments generate pain, because they are a sensory organ, with free nerve endings. The weakness that occurs after ligament injury to the knee, for example, may give rise to Runner’s knee, meniscal tears, chondromalacia patella, bone spurs and eventually to arthritis. When the ligament is injured, the harmony between the soft tissue, muscles and bony structures is disrupted, interfering with mobility and joint stability. What results is an unstable joint, one that moves abnormally, functions poorly, and becomes more and more damaged. When the ligaments are left untreated, the body will try to stabilize the joint by causing ongoing muscle spasms, joint swelling and eventually bone spur formation and degenerative arthritis…a cycle of persistent pain.
Involvement in athletics provides us with physical, emotional and mental well-being. However, when we’re faced with injury, we often set into motion the cycle of instability in the joint as mentioned above. This cycle also leads to the eventual development of arthritis, which can occur within a few years with severe injuries, or take decades to develop when the injury is less severe. Although progressive cartilage loss with its inhibition of joint motion plays a central role in arthritis, injury to other soft tissue structures actually initiates the change in equilibrium that leads to this breakdown of cartilage and the path to arthritis. Athletes of all ages desire to be as fit as when in the prime of their athletic careers. But the pain and symptoms from non-healed sports injuries interferes with that dream!
Standard treatments for sports injuries usually only involve the management of symptoms, which may include pain medications, cortisone/steroid injections, physical therapy, massage and other therapies to provide pain relief. These treatments may work to relieve pain temporarily or momentarily reduce the pain and inflammation. But when the athlete turns off the pain signal with medication use, while the joint is still injured, and continues to play and remain active on an injured joint, further damage ensues. It is important to realize that these treatment modalities do not repair soft tissue injuries, such as tendon, ligament, and meniscus tears, nor do they regenerate cartilage.
The key to keeping joints strong is to stimulate the area to heal. Regenerative Orthopedics does just that, offering hope to those suffering from sports injuries. They are the ideal treatment for sports injuries because they get you back to doing what you love. Plus, these therapies are non-surgical. The treatments regenerate and repair the damaged ligaments and soft tissue, allowing the athlete to continue with their desired activity. Non-surgical regenerative therapies, including Stem Cell Therapy, PRP, and Prolotherapy, stimulate the natural regenerative processes in and around the joint and facilitate the restoration of the degenerated soft tissue to a healthy state, improving joint support and function, and reducing pain and symptoms.
Regenerative Orthopedics involves the injection of natural solutions, and sometimes, depending on the nature of injury or degeneration, will also include injections of an autologous preparation, from a person’s own plasma (blood), fat or bone marrow, injected directly into the damaged joint to accelerate the healing process.
Regenerative Orthopedics is a great non-surgical treatment ideal for offering not only pain relief from sports injuries, but healing and reparation at the source of the injury. This regeneration and repair enables the athlete of all ages to speedily return to the sport or activity they love with minimal lifestyle interruption.