Ask Dr. Boettcher: What questions can I ask about regenerative medicine?
Asking these questions can help you decide if regenerative medicine is right for you.
“People are very interested, and rightfully so, in medical treatments that are more natural and less harmful,” says sports medicine physician Dr. Brennan Boettcher. “A lot of my patients are keenly interested in regenerative medicine therapies. But it’s important to understand what research tells us about how and when regenerative medicine is effective.”
Regenerative medicine is one treatment option among many
“I think of regenerative treatments like PRP and BMAC injections as one option for treating a problem,” explains Dr. Boettcher. “You might get 60 percent relief from a PRP injection. But you might experience additional relief from a combination of a brace, physical therapy, and medication. If you focus on one therapy to the exclusion of others, you may not be optimizing your outcome. I take a comprehensive approach; I want to talk with you about all your treatment options. Especially because regenerative medicine is relatively new, I think it’s to your advantage to address the following issues before you try it.”
- Choosing regenerative medicine should be a considered decision. Boettcher emphasizes that people should never feel pressured to do a BMAC or PRP injection. “Regenerative medicine does not treat emergency and life-or-death conditions,” he points out. “Accordingly, there’s no reason for you to feel rushed into regenerative therapy. It is perfectly reasonable to take your time and do your research first. Informing yourself in advance of a treatment decision can really work to your benefit.”
- Learn about your physician’s experience. “It’s always appropriate to ask physicians about their experience with a treatment you are considering,” says Dr. Boettcher. “With emerging therapies like regenerative medicine, it’s also appropriate to ask physicians about the research supporting a specific treatment. Regenerative treatments have had different results for tennis elbow versus hamstring, knee, and rotator cuff injuries. Does research evidence support the treatment you are considering? And what is your chance of benefiting from the suggested therapy based on the evidence? It’s fair to ask these questions. It’s also helpful to ask how many regenerative procedures a physician has performed and whether there have been any complications.”
- Know the treatment equipment your physician will use. Currently, there are a variety of technologies used to prepare regenerative medicine treatments. A physician may use the Arthrex Double Syringe (ACP) or the Arthrex Angel Centrifuge to concentrate blood for a PRP injection. “Some centrifuge equipment provides a higher PRP concentration than others,” notes Dr. Boettcher. “ACP provides a low PRP concentration; the injection will have twice the growth factors found in normal blood. The Arthrex Angel Centrifuge provides 10 to 12 times more concentration. Your physician should be able to tell you about the kind of centrifuge being used, the concentration you’ll get, and why he or she is using that particular concentration.”
- Discuss the research supporting your treatment. Boettcher encourages patients to ask for the research that supports a suggested treatment. “New research is published regularly,” he explains. “Reviewing relevant research can help you feel confident that your physician is acting in your best interest by recommending a procedure.”
- Evaluate the quality of the research you review. Boettcher acknowledges that it can be difficult for a layperson to evaluate the quality of a medical research study. “Generally, if a study is published in a reputable journal, or what we call a high-impact journal, the study is more likely to be well done. Higher-impact journals generally publish better research. It can also be helpful to check the research reported in major organizational journals. Some reputable examples are the American Journal of Sports Medicine, the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. On the other hand, if you are given research funded by a company that benefits from the procedure or if a physician is unwilling to provide research, that’s a red flag.”
Regenerative medicine is one option in the comprehensive array of specialty treatments offered by Summit Orthopedics
“At Summit, we take a comprehensive approach to patient care,” says Dr. Boettcher. “I encourage patients to ask questions and explore options. For appropriate patients, regenerative medicine may be one part of a treatment plan tailored to address your condition. It’s a collaborative process, and the litmus test for effective treatment is whether you experience better function and less pain afterward.”
Great care begins with a strong doctor-patient relationship
For Dr. Boettcher, the relationship he builds with each patient is key to his regenerative medicine consult and an essential component of treatment. “I want to know what you want to do, and I want to understand what is restricting you,” he says. “Each of these factors is essential to my understanding of your goals and objectives. Our subspecialty focus means that we can provide and evaluate the full range of your medical options together. Patient education is a critical part of the process. I think patients value continuity of care and comprehensive familiarity with their orthopedic issues. At Summit, that’s what my colleagues and I provide.”
Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive sports medicine expertise
From Olympians to pro athletes to kids in youth sports and those that just want to be more active—Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as several additional community clinics.
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