Intra-articular Therapies (Joint Injections)

This service is available at:
Bulger Veterinary Hospital
Port City Veterinary Referral Hospital

Regenerative treatments are aimed at restoring structure and function to tissues, organs and body systems that have been damaged by injury or disease.

Intra-articular therapies (joint injections) include the following therapies:

  • Stem Cell Therapy
  • PRP (platelet rich plasma)
  • HA (hyaluronic acid)
  • Steroids, anti-inflammatories

Platelet Replacement Therapy

Fat derived stem cellsPlatelet Replacement Therapy takes advantages of the anti-inflammatory properties of platelets. Following an injury there is an immediate inflammatory response, evident by the heat and swelling noted at the injured site.

Inflammation is essential to stopping the spread of infection, and for allowing the transport of inflammatory cells to the site of the injury. However, healing cannot take place until the inflammatory response stops.

Platelets signal the white blood cells to help clean up the inflammation and release growth factors. This process ultimately inhibits inflammation and allows the recovery process to begin.

With many chronic conditions the injured site remains in a perpetual state of inflammation, thereby impeding the healing process. Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) jump starts the recovery process by converting the injury from a site of inflammation to one of recovery.

How Is Platelet Rich Plasma Aquired?
PRP is harvested directly from a small sample of the patient’s blood and is ready for use within 15 minutes. These treatments are advantageous because they can be made available for treatment relatively quickly. In addition, they are derived from the patient’s own blood, eliminating the risk of an inflammatory reaction response.

What Types of Injuries or Diseases Would Benefit from PRP treatment?

PRP is commonly used to treat soft tissue injuries (cartilage, tendons, ligaments), arthritis, joint pain and wounds.

Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cells can be harvested from a variety of tissues including skin, adipose (fat) and bone marrow. The fat-derived stem cells are simple to retrieve, have a higher concentration than bone marrow and have shown a mix of “regenerative” cells. These stem cells, in the correct environment, can be transformed into numerous cell types including bone, cartilage, skin, nerves and muscles.

Stem cell harvesting is a three-step process:

Step 1: The fat is collected from your pet by a Vet-Stem credentialed veterinarian.
Step 2: The fat is sent to a lab that specializes in stem cell harvesting where the cells are isolated and grown in a cultured medium.
Step 3: The cells are shipped directly back to your veterinarian where they are injected into the injured area.

How Does Stem Cell Therapy Promote Healing?

When present in an inflammatory environment the stem cells work through three mechanisms.

First: the cells demonstrate regenerative capacity by differentiating into the cell line of interest such as bone, cartilage or muscle cells.

Second: the cells support healing by releasing growth factors and cytokines that stimulate blood flow and tissue remodeling, while slowing down cell death.

Finally: the stem cells act as a homing beacon, drawing circulating stem cells to the injured site. In addition the injected stem cells can migrate to areas of inflammation allowing for a targeted approach to healing.

What Types of Diseases or Injuries Would Benefit From Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem cells have been shown in numerous studies to demonstrate efficacy in arthritis, tendon repair, fractures, ligament damage and chronic wounds. There is active research looking at the use of stem cells to treat liver disease, cardiac disease and renal disease.


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