Good News for Stem Cell Treatment on Elbows

One of the perennial questions faced by professional baseball pitchers is how long they will be able to do what they do. Pitching is extremely traumatic on the joints and ligaments of the shoulder and elbow, a fact which has led to many calls for limiting the pitch count of younger players.

But once a player is in the big leagues, he doesn’t have the luxury of sitting a few games out when he’s tired. Pros face all the same health issues as younger athletes, and the consequences can be punishing. When joints give out entirely, pitchers have traditionally been faced with two prospects: Tommy John surgery, or retirement.

But platelet rich plasma (PRP) may represent a Third Way, one which extends careers without extending time in recovery. As the Los Angeles Angels’ Garrett Richards recently discovered, the bounce-back can be astoundingly swift:

Instead of electing to undergo standard Tommy John surgery, Richards decided to try to heal his injury by getting an injection of stem cells directly into his elbow. . . . Gross, but it apparently worked. Passan reports Richards is feeling great and throwing 98 mph at spring training. Richards is clearly pleased with the tentatively positive outcome: “Science, bro. I’m a believer now,” Richards told Passan.

This isn’t the same response that everyone will have, of course. But it is an encouraging sign for this still-novel procedure, one that could soon be a common treatment for elbow pain that helps athletes young and old heal faster and play longer.

Treating Shoulder Pain in Swimmers

Shoulder pain is a common complaint throughout the developed world, but especially for swimmers of every age bracket who rely on the propulsive force of their shoulders to achieve top speeds in the water.

From impingement to scapular dyskinesis to GIRD, or glenohumeral internal rotation deficit, shoulder pain can arise because of a variety of causes, and present with a dizzying array of symptoms.

There is no single best treatment for all cases of shoulder pain. Often the most effective treatment is a hybrid involving any number of modalities, including corticosteroid injections, physical therapy, rest, and exercise.

Each swimmer is different, and each stroke places its particular burden on the joint. Even as children age, they may graduate from one source of shoulder pain to another, requiring an attentive pediatric orthopedist to track the source of the pain as it occurs.

If you or your child is experiencing shoulder pain in San Diego, we’ve got you covered. Contact my offices for a complete workup today.

Managing Pain in Shoulder Surgery

Rotator cuff surgery is often necessary to relieve the pain of a tear, but that doesn’t mean the surgery itself ends the pain right away. Recovering from surgery like this can be slow and difficult, especially given the many moving parts required to make this joint work.

Now some researchers are treating rotator cuff surgery as a laboratory for new pain management techniques, testing whether non-opioid medical care could be just as effective as some of the tried and true – and habit-forming – alternatives:

The techniques might include injecting a nonaddictive anesthetic at the base of the neck to block pain signals, or sending a patient home with a catheter implanted under the skin to deliver doses of anesthetics for several days. Wearable icing devices and mechanical stimulation of the surgical site can reduce pain and swelling during physical therapy. And drug regimens seek to steer patients within a few days toward common medications such as Tylenol.

It is an intriguing avenue and an overdue science-based approach to pain – one which many orthopedic surgeons would like to see analyzed and formalized across the board.

If you want the very best rotator cuff treatment and aftercare in the San Diego area, please contact my offices today.