Pain and dysfunction are not inevitable when it comes to degenerative joints. Between being an acupuncturist for nine years and a nurse for twenty-two years, I have found many tools to address neuropathic pain. Acupuncture is phenomenal at addressing many pain issues even when other modalities have fallen short.
Mentoring with my teachers and based on my own acupuncture practice I have often noted that degenerative joint conditions are often inadequately served with acupuncture alone. Having seen the limitations and adverse reactions of pharmaceuticals and surgical interventions, I longed for something else that was both holistic and worked on the principle of self-healing.
Diving Into Regenerative Medicine
Three years ago I began a deep dive into all that regenerative medicine has to offer. Shortly after this, my wife had an abrupt onset of left shoulder pain not related to trauma. Pain became excruciating making sleep near impossible.
She was unable to bear weight and had only a minimal range of motion. Acupuncture only provided very short term relief. Based on my experience I knew the source of my wife’s pain was likely her joint. Imaging with her primary MD revealed arthritis and degeneration of her shoulder joint along with some minor bicep tendon tears.
My wife did not want a short term solution to the long term problem so she declined pharmaceutical and surgical interventions. By this time I had joined a group called Go Wellness headed by Regan Archibald from Utah. He has written several books on using afterbirth tissues to regenerate degenerated connective tissues.
I spent months studying with him at his clinic and saw the progress of his patients and other practitioners who were using Regenerative medicine combined with diet, acupuncture, supplements and other lifestyle changes to get phenomenal results.
The Regenerative Medicine Approach
My wife liked this approach and got her shoulder injected. Amazingly within a week, her pain was greatly reduced. Within a month, she could sleep through the night.
Between three and six months, she regained full range of motion and now two years later her left shoulder continues to be great.
We were so inspired that we added Regenerative Medicine to our Santa Barbara clinic under the name Santa Barbara Regenerative Medicine (sbregen.com).
Skepticism With Other Forms Of Medicine
Why were we so skeptical about Western Medicine to help my wife’s degenerative shoulder? It has a lot to do with working in the medical field for so long.
It also reflects the reality that for the past three years life expectancy in the U.S. has actually gone down even with all that is spent on health care. While Western medicine saves lives every day in Emergency Medicine and Surgical Interventions, it is also very inadequate when it comes to many chronic issues including pain and dysfunction associated with degenerative joints.
How does Western Medicine address these issues? Pharmaceuticals are prescribed by the billions each year. And we all know that the opioid crisis has ruined so many lives. Since 1999 till present over 400,000 U.S. citizens have lost their lives due to the effects of opioids.
Another concerning statistic is that Drugs and medical procedures are the second leading cause of death in America after heart disease and ahead of cancer. Steroids are part of this problem. Yes, they are anti-inflammatory and can provide up to months of relief with some patients but for others, they are completely ineffective.
More than this steroids do nothing to promote healing in a joint. Just the opposite, they decrease blood flow into the area of degeneration which impedes healing. Steroids also compromise the immune system, promote blood sugar surges and per some reports decrease bone density.
Surgical interventions can replace a degenerative joint. This can be successful for some but for as many as half, repeated surgical interventions are needed. Also, the risk of infection and months of downtime further make surgery a risky bet.
I have treated more than my share of joint replacement patients who still linger with ongoing pain and dysfunction years after their surgery.
What Makes Regenerative Medicine Different?
So we knew we did not want pharmaceuticals nor surgical intervention to address degeneration. But what is so impressive about stem cells to meet the needs of my wife and others with degenerative joints?
Regenerative medicine with stem cells allowed my wife to have no downtime after the procedure, mitigate her pain and restore function by prompting her body to heal itself.
The source we choose for regenerative medicine is afterbirth tissue including the umbilical cord, amniotic membrane, placenta, and chorionic membrane. These allogeneic sources carry no risk of tissue rejection because they lack HLA antigens.
Similar to a surrogate mother who does not reject carrying a baby that shares no genetics with her. Stem cells orchestrate healing in a multitude of ways; First because some of the stem cell tissue is polar it has the ability to hone towards the area of inflammation after being injected.
These cells intelligently monitor the environment and secrete exosomes filled with antimicrobial peptides. These peptides down regulate inflammatory cytokines like TNFalfa, IL6, and IL1B. Stem cells, also known as mesenchymal signaling cells (MSCs), create an environment in the body conducive to healing.
The stem cell tissue contains growth factors like mmp9 which breaks down scar tissue and plays a role in angiogenesis. Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels and this is essential to healing and forming new tissues.
The stem cell tissue also contains an extracellular matrix of proteins that acts as scaffolding for the new tissue formation. There is plasma rich protein (PRP) and hyaluronic acid in the stem cell tissue which are anti-inflammatory and pain relievers.
Stem cells break the cycle of programmed cell death, called apoptosis which often plagues a degenerative joint. On average a joint will gain 2-4 mm of cartilage after a six month period of healing.
.The Regenerative Medicine Resources
But why do we use afterbirth tissue instead of the stem cells from our own body like bone marrow stem cell treatments?
Autologous stem cell sources like bone marrow and adipose seem promising but in practice, they are not nearly as healing as the afterbirth tissue. In general, as we age so do our stem cells. As we get older our stem cells lose much of their healing capacity.
To better understand this, we need to understand how stem cells work in our own bodies. Every minute we lose three hundred million cells and it is our stem cells that repopulate these loses. By age 25 to 30, our stem cells are no longer able to keep up with the massive cellular turnover.
This sets in motion aging and degeneration of our body. This can be illustrated by an infant who falls down thousands of times by age three yet no injury is present. In comparison, an elderly person can fall down just once and be hospitalized or even perish in large part because their stem cells are ineffective to promote healing.
As another example a stem cell of a newborn reproduces every twenty-four hours while a stem cell of person age 70 reproduces every 60 hours on average. In a single month, due to exponential growth, a single newborn stem cell would grow to a billion new cells while the 70-year-old stem cell would add a mere 200 cells.
This helps explain why bone marrow and other autologous stem cell treatments often do not heal in the same way as afterbirth stem cells.
But it takes more than the best stem cells to produce the best results for our clients.
Why Regenerative Medicine Is Successful
We attribute our high success rate to rehabilitate joints down to four factors:
1) We source our afterbirth stem cells from the best source.
We use a lab that has a 100% compliance record with the FDA since opening its doors fifteen years ago.
All samples are locally sourced, screened for genetic defects, communicable diseases and harvested under sterile techniques with no harm to mother or baby. All samples make it from hospital to lab within thirty minutes.
After passing all screening, samples are tested for the density of stem cells and activity level. If standards not met, the sample is discarded which happens on average 30% of the time. The samples are cryopreserved for no more than ninety days and shipped overnight to clinics like ours.
We use one of the only labs whose product has been tested by third-party labs for the presence of live cells post-thaw.
2) We use ultrasound imaging prior to and during all stem cell joint injections.
This is to ensure product placement accuracy. We also use ultrasound to objectively see improvements in cartilage growth and joint structure.
3) We take a holistic approach.
We learn as much as possible about our clients through comprehensive blood work, pulse assessment and history taking. Based on this we give lifestyle and diet guidelines as well as any supplements and herbal support to ensure the success of the stem cell product.
4) We provide acupuncture.
We provide acupuncture on the day of the procedure and twice weekly for the first month to infuse the joint and associated structures with oxygen, nutrition and blood flow. A health coach is also assigned to you providing support on activities and diet with regular check-ins.
Contact Us For Your Regenerative Medicine Needs
We are excited and honored that we can offer afterbirth stem cell treatments to help those with debilitating and painful joint degeneration. You can age with strength, functionality and without pain. Pursue your life goals and be there to enjoy every step of the way. Call our office for a free consultation or attend one of our weekly free seminars (805) 450 – 2891.