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Orthobiologics

Orthobiologics are products made from biological substances naturally found in the body. They are used by orthopedic surgeons to improve the healing of musculoskeletal tissues such as tendons, muscle or bone. Regenerative medicine is the interdisciplinary branch of medicine that replaces damaged or diseased tissues and organs by generating functional tissues. This can be achieved by stimulating the body’s repair mechanism with biomaterials such as orthobiologics.

Orthobiologics Treatment for Shoulder

Orthobiologics help your body repair damaged tissue and bone, heal injuries faster and minimize pain. They are administered through injections or surgery. Orthobiologics are recommended by your doctor to treat shoulder conditions causing pain and stiffness.

Am I a Suitable Candidate for Orthobiologics Treatment?

Your doctor recommends orthobiologics if you do not respond to conservative treatment options and require quick healing. People with medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders or cancer may not be suitable for orthobiologics treatment. Inform your doctor if you take prescribed blood-thinning medications. 

Types of Orthobiologics for Shoulder

Some important types of orthobiologics are discussed below.

Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is an orthobiologic with a high concentration of platelets in plasma. Blood consists of solid and liquid components. Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains water, salts, enzymes, hormones, and various proteins. The blood cells including the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets form the solid portion. 

Activation of the platelets followed by an injury is an important step in the natural healing process. Platelets enhance the healing process by releasing various growth factors and proteins. PRP can be injected into a site of injury or maybe applied during surgery to enhance healing. 

Your doctor may suggest PRP for shoulder conditions including:

  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Shoulder arthritis
  • Shoulder impingement
  • Labral tear
  • Biceps tendonitis

Cell Therapy

Cord blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta after childbirth has anti-inflammatory properties and has also been shown to decrease cell death and fibrous tissue formation. This regenerative capacity offers the potential for the management of shoulder arthritis and rotator cuff injuries. However, conclusive evidence still needs to be obtained.

Bone Grafting

A bone graft is the healthy bone tissue taken from the patient’s body (autograft) or obtained from a healthy donor or a deceased donor (allograft) and transplanted to the site of a shoulder injury. Bone grafting is usually performed to repair a shoulder fracture. Once transplanted, the graft slowly converts to new living tissue and establishes functional connections with the living bone (osseointegration).

Cartilage Restoration

Cartilage restoration is a procedure to replace the damaged cartilage by stimulating cartilage growth or transplanting cartilage tissue. 

Cartilage restoration is indicated for cartilage defects in the shoulder that can range from minor injury to degeneration(osteoarthritis). 

The articular surfaces of the body’s joints are lined by a smooth white tissue called articular cartilage that serves as a shock absorber and allows easy movement of the bones within the joint. Injury or normal wear-and-tear can damage and cause defects in the cartilage, resulting in irregular articular surfaces that interfere with movement causing pain, swelling and disability. Cartilage restoration is achieved by surgery. 

Complications of Orthobiologics

Complications are rare but can include:

  • Pain 
  • Infection
  • Nerve injuries
  • American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Inova
  • Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • J. Robert Gladden Orthopaedic Society
  • DC United
  • Loudoun United
  • American Orthopaedic Association