For those seeking relief from sports related injuries due to conditions impacting the hip, knee, shoulder or elbow, a Baylor College of Medicine expert says using your own powerful fat to help you heal the natural way may be an option.

“With this treatment, I can tackle a number of non-operative sports and musculoskeletal injuries, said Dr. Prathap Jayaram, director of regenerative sports medicine and assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Baylor.” Some patients who may be candidates for cell therapy injections are those who have failed conservative treatment options such as, physical therapy, NSAIDS and Hyaluronic Acid Injections, and are seeking another option to invasive surgery. These patients may benefit from this minimally invasive procedure. There is an increasing body of evidence to support reparative strategies that are beneficial for patients with joint and tendon injuries.”

Fat is a powerful tissue that is used to provide cushion and support for patients with orthopedic conditions. It has the best reparative cells in the body, and it is a strong and sticky substance. According to Jayaram, fat has about 100 to 500 times more reparative cells than an equivalent volume of other cells taken from your body. Fat may be used to provide options to repair, replace, reconstruct or cushion and support damaged or injured tissue.

There are two types of cell therapy treatments available. In addition to fat cell therapy, a bone marrow stem cell therapy also is available. Unlike the bone marrow stem cell therapy, which has been available for some time, fat cell therapy can be easily gathered from the belly or the “love handles,” using minimally invasive techniques with minimal side effects. Patients may be in and out of their procedure visit in one day, Jayaram said.

This treatment can help to cushion and support the area as well as repair, reconstruct and replace damaged or injured tissue using fat’s natural reparative properties.

Often, patients will try a repeated steroid injection and although steroids are great for acute pain, Jayaram said that over time, steroid injections can be more degenerative than regenerative at the tissue level and are not the best long-term option. “Certainly steroids still have a place, and I still inject steroids for acute pain where it¹s indicated, but I don¹t use it as a long-term strategy,” he said.

To really complement this treatment, patients also should have tailored physical therapy. There are specific rehab protocols that go along with these cell therapy strategies, and they are both mutually reinforcing, he said.

“The fat system that I use is FDA cleared for use in orthopedics and is safe for patients,” Jayaram said. “However, not all fat systems have been approved for use. The FDA’s goal is to balance innovation with safety to bring new, effective therapies to patients as quickly and safely as possible.”

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