Coeur d’Alene’s active lifestyle is one big reason many of us call this place home. We are a city on the move, whether we’re out on the putting green, perfecting our parallel turns at Schweitzer or just walking to yoga class.
With all this physical activity going on, there are bound to be a few accidents and injuries. Conventional medical care may require months of rehab and a slow recovery. But a breakthrough treatment known as regenerative medicine is changing the way doctors help their patients heal.
Coeur d’Alene is fortunate to be home to two physician “powerhouses” who are working on the leading edge of regenerative medicine, which uses each patient’s own body to heal itself.
Joanne Halbrecht, MD and Jeffrey J. Larson, MD have recently opened Coeur d’Alene Regenerative Medicine, an innovative clinic that uses proven, FDA-compliant techniques to treat musculoskeletal pain.
Each doctor has been established in their own practice for years, with decades of experience in minimally invasive treatments and regenerative medicine injections.
Dr. Halbrecht is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, founder of Coeur d’Alene Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and an internationally known authority on regenerative medicine and stem-cell therapy. She has performed hundreds of regenerative medicine procedures and has appeared on CBS television’s “American Health Front,” lectured nationally, published in peer-reviewed journals and is sought out by patients and colleagues for her knowledge and insight on stem-cell therapy.
Dr. Larson is a board-certified neurosurgeon and founder and medical director of Coeur d’Alene Spine and Brain, PLLC (CDA Spine), an independent comprehensive neurosurgery clinic. He has authored over 60 peer reviewed articles, book chapters, abstracts and presentations, and has won national research awards.
We recently sat down with Dr. Halbrecht and Dr. Larson to learn more about their groundbreaking work and their new clinic.
What sparked your interest in regenerative medicine?
Dr. Larson: My personal interest was sparked by a chronic knee problem I aggravated while training for the Boston Marathon. I was looking for something short of a knee replacement to avoid further damage to my cartilage and ligaments. Regenerative medicine has the potential to reduce or eliminate pain but also to heal the injury using your own cells. I immediately thought of using these methods in treating my back pain patients.
Dr. Halbrecht: As an orthopedic surgeon with an undergraduate degree in engineering, I have always embraced cutting-edge technology—in this case, cell or tissue therapy. A general term for using these cells or tissue from the human body for orthopedic treatments is “orthobiologic.” When studies first appeared in the literature showing the benefits of orthobiologics or cell therapy for orthopedic pathology, I was intrigued and began researching the topic.
I believe that biologics are truly the future of medicine. The results and potentials of regenerative medicine are amazing. I foresee using stem cells for acute injuries where they are injected to the site of injury to accelerate healing and prevent future problems such as arthritis or instability.
Who can benefit the most from regenerative medicine treatment?
Dr. Larson: Patients who have lower back pain from degenerative disc disease or degenerative facet joints may be perfect candidates for regenerative medicine techniques instead of undergoing steroid injections or surgery.
Dr. Halbrecht: Patients with arthritis, rotator cuff tears, meniscus tears and tendonitis can benefit from regenerative medicine. The key to success combines a detailed physical examination, accurate diagnosis and focused physical therapy with orthobiologics.
You use fat tissue from the patient’s own body. Why is fat used?
Dr. Halbrecht: Early orthobiologic methods relied on getting cells from bone marrow, but harvesting it can be very painful and often requires sedation. The procedure for harvesting fat is relatively painless and does not require sedation. We use an FDA-approved device for processing the fat. The procedure is done in the office using local anesthetic and only takes about an hour.
Dr. Larson: Many patients have an abundant amount of excess fat. Even the most-fit patients would be happy to offer up their love handles, which are easy to access. Studies have shown that fat cells have up to 500 times more mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) than bone marrow, and that fat cells retain their healing properties as patients age. MSCs react to inflammation and injury and act like little drug stores, releasing proteins and growth factors that are anti-inflammatory, promote the growth of blood vessels, inhibit scar tissue formation and manage the innate capability of tissues to regenerate.
Dr. Halbrecht: The number of MSCs in bone marrow sharply declines with age, whereas the number of MSCs in fat remains fairly constant. In addition, your own fat is safer than using umbilical or amniotic products. Many who perform injections using birth tissues have no idea how they are processed or whether they comply with FDA regulations. The New York Times recently reported on 12 patients who had joint infections after they received an umbilical cord blood injection.
Why should a patient choose CDA Regenerative Medicine?
Dr. Halbrecht: We are the only regenerative medicine practice in the region with a neurosurgeon and orthopedic surgeon who each have over 25 years of experience in the conservative and surgical treatment of spine and joint pain. Together, we provide comprehensive expertise to help relieve pain and avoid steroid injections and surgery for our patients.
The consumer needs to understand that clinics that are not run by a physician most often offer ‘amniotic or umbilical cord stem cells.’ Studies show that umbilical and amniotic products have either no cells or the cells are all dead. These products have not been clinically proven to be effective in treating arthritis, rotator cuff tears and meniscus tears.
Dr. Larson: It is best to seek treatment by an orthopedic or neurosurgeon who has extensive knowledge of the conservative and surgical treatment for musculoskeletal problems and is experienced in regenerative medicine. Ultimately, we work together with each patient to decide which treatment is best.
Your health is your greatest wealth. Call today.
CDA Regenerative Medicine works at the forefront of cell therapy to heal injuries and promote orthopedic wellness. Make CDA Regenerative Medicine your partner in health and fitness. Call or visit the website to learn more about the healing power of regenerative medicine or to schedule a personal consultation. CDA Regenerative Medicine is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm.
CDA Regenerative Medicine
3320 North Grand Mill Lane
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho 83814