In nature, rapid changes often result in adverse effects on the ecosystem. Occasionally, the changes can be catastrophic. We can observe this when the salinity of the ocean is changed by the sudden melting of a 10,000-year-old glacier. Or, when a flood occurs after a massive rain storm that overwhelms the ability of the ground to absorb the moisture.
Surgery and medications induce rapid changes that often lead to downstream effects on our body’s mechanics and physiology. An example of this when someone develops hip pain after a knee replacement. We sometimes give a medication to address one problem, only to end up creating 3 new problems due to side effects. Surgery and medications are valuable tools in medicine, but we must be acutely aware of the potential sequelae we are creating when we employ these strategies.
Slow changes in nature generally allow for positive adaptations in the environment. This is certainly the case with regenerative medicine. Injections of our body’s own platelets and stem cells can facilitate a slow process of tissue repair and remodeling. This remodeling is guided by the normal forces and stresses applied to the structure.
After a patient has a body part treated with regenerative medicine, they will often note a few days of focal soreness and restricted range of motion. This soreness is indicative of a ramped-up healing response and this should not be stopped by taking anti-inflammatory medications like Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc. After the soreness resolves, the patient may see a return to baseline symptoms, or perhaps subtle improvements. This is a very typical response early on when starting regenerative medicine treatments. We generally see more robust clinical gains with time and repeated treatments. Having soreness after treatment, and being patient with results, can be difficult when experiencing pain and disability. But, we must remember that with this medical treatment, we are initiating the healing process and we need to let nature slowly run its course.