June 26, 2020

Understanding orthobiologics in orthopedic treatment

Cartilage Restoration | Non-operative Care | Orthobiologics | Research


Patients are always looking for ways to prolong their joint function or avoid surgery, especially joint replacement surgery. OrthoIndy physicians not only offer joint preservation surgery but equally focus on avoiding surgery whenever possible by providing the most cutting-edge, non-operative treatment for our patients.  

With that in mind, OrthoIndy doctors have been at the forefront of treatment with orthobiologics for broken bones, torn ligaments and injured muscles. However, many patients don’t understand what this means for them.  

What are orthobiologic therapies?

Orthobiologics are natural tissue-derived products that orthopedic surgeons use to help injuries (such as arthritic joints, broken bones, injured muscles, tendons or ligaments) heal more quickly in some circumstances and in other cases, allow delay of joint replacement surgery.  

The orthobiologic substances consist of cells, proteins, glycoproteins and complex carbohydrates that are naturally found in the body. When orthobiologics are used they may augment the healing by creating a less inflammatory environment.  

The main goal of orthobiologics is to decrease pain and improve function. If you are experiencing pain from arthritis, injections won’t make your body grow new cartilage (as implied by some centers), but they can decrease pain and improve your quality of life.  

OrthoIndy Ultimate Guide to Orthobiologics

What orthobiologics are used at OrthoIndy?

The goal of the orthobiologics program at OrthoIndy is to provide cutting edge treatment with a sound scientific foundation.  

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections 

Platelet-rich plasma injections use your own plasma, platelets and growth factors (which are inside the platelets) to promote a healthier joint environment. There are different kinds of PRP injections, some with low white blood cell count and some with high white blood cell count, each used for different applications. In general, these injections have been shown to create a less inflammatory environment in the injured body part, which may potentially result in less pain and improved function. 


Tissue and cell injections 

Stem cell injections are widely and improperly promoted. The true stem cell can form tissues as varied as brain, heart, skin, liver and cartilage. In the field of orthobiologics, the cells have been termed mesenchymal signal cells (MSCs for short). They can be found in the bone marrow and adipose tissue (fat) as well as some cells from ethically derived placental tissue.  

The scientist who coined the name “MSCs”, Arnold Caplan, now likes to say they modify the environment in positive ways and renamed them “Medicinal Signaling Cells” as they do help “reset” the joint environment, but do NOT make new cartilage, ligaments or menisci as some claim.  

It’s important to note that most orthobiologic treatments are not covered by insurance and are self-pay instead.  


What are the benefits of orthobiologics?

  • The potential to delay or avoid major surgery  
  • Recovery is faster than a surgical procedure  
  • Treatment may be in the office as an outpatient procedure  
  • They are natural substances found within the body rather than drugs or chemicals  

Does orthobiologic therapy always work?

This is a very exciting time for orthopedic medicine as we continue to find more options to potentially slow down the progression of arthritis symptoms without surgery. With orthobiologic therapies we are beginning to understand how to stimulate the body to improve comfort and function.  

However, orthobiologic injections are not for everyone and may not be an option for you. At OrthoIndy, we are using these treatments to stimulate your own body to improve comfort and function, but how your body responds to the treatments is, unfortunately unpredictable. 

At OrthoIndy our orthopedic physicians continue to provide patients with the latest advances in technology, including orthobiologic treatments. An OrthoIndy physician will work with you to determine the best course of treatment for your specific injury and will discuss whether or not orthobiologics is a solution that could work for you.  

Learn more about non-operative treatment options at OrthoIndy

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000

Related Posts

More from OrthoIndy

Get stories and News in your inbox

Subscribe to our weekly articles