When considering regenerative medicine treatment for a sports injury, people have lots of choices regarding types of treatment and where to get it. The abundance of choices, along with the uncertainties about efficacy and lack of formal professional medical guidelines, can be overwhelming.
To help make the decision, patients are encouraged to ask their doctors about their training, the recommended procedure, cost, and potential side effects.
Considering Cost of Regenerative Medicine
In most cases, insurance does not cover regenerative medicine treatments and patients must pay out-of-pocket. Prices vary considerably depending on the specific treatment, region, and doctor and/or hospital.
For example, the cost of a single PRP injection typically ranges from $500 to $2,000. Bone marrow stem cell injections range from $2,000 to $5,000 or more. Therapeutic injections and prolotherapy, which can cost $100 to $500, often require more than one treatment, raising the overall cost.
Physician Training and Details About the Procedure
When selecting a physician for any type of regenerative medicine therapy, patients may want to ask:
- What training does the doctor have in performing the treatment? Some experts recommend that a doctor offering any regenerative medicine therapy complete a formal training course or have extensive one-on-one training with an experienced doctor.
- Does the doctor have experience treating this problem with the proposed regenerative medicine treatment? What is his or her success rate?
- If stem cells or PRP is being used, is a blood analysis (hemoanalysis) done before treatment?
- Are the stem cells or PRP cells being used live cells? How is their viability verified?
- Are any anesthetics or additives used during the procedure? How might these affect the treatment outcome?
- If an injection will be given, does the doctor use ultrasound, fluoroscopy, or computed tomography (CT scan) to guide injections? Does the doctor have training or certification to use these imaging technologies? Some experienced orthopedic and sports medicine physicians are able to make accurate injections to certain tendons without the need for imaging; however, proper use of imaging technologies can ensure that the injections are administered precisely.
A patient might worry that questions about a doctor’s training and experience could offend the doctor. However, a doctor should be able to answer these questions openly and freely.
Potential Risks, Benefits, and Recovery Times
Most regenerative medicine treatments are considered safe and have few potential side effects, but side effects do occur. Before providing any treatment, a doctor should also explain the:
- Potential risks
- Possible benefits
- Steps of the procedure
- Follow-up protocol, which should include at least one follow-up appointment
- Expectations for recovery and time frame for healing
The patient may be asked to sign an informed consent form that the therapy is an elective procedure with certain risks and side effects.