#SportsMedicineMonday: What is Orthobiologics?

Mar 26, 2018

What is Orthobiologics?

One of the most exciting innovations in orthopaedic surgery over the last decade has been the rise of orthobiologics. Orthobiologics are biological substances made from naturally occurring materials in the body and that are used to help broken bones, torn ligaments and injured muscles heal more quickly. Let’s take a closer look at orthobiologics and how they’re changing orthopaedic treatment for the better.

Basics of Orthobiologics

Orthobiologics refers to a wide range of substances that stimulate healing within the body. When a body tissue is injured, bleeding around the injury site is the body’s first response. Blood makes up the body’s transportation network, so bleeding carries healing factors to the injury site. Aside from bleeding, three orthobiologic substances are responsible for healing: matrix, growth factors and stem cells. Other common orthobiologics include:

  • Bone grafts
  • Platelet rich plasma
  • Autologous blood


Think of the matrix as a housing unit for cells. Within the matrix, cells form whatever the body requires for healing, whether it’s bone, tissue or ligament. And because it’s conductive, matrix material forms the building blocks that fill gaps within the bone.

Growth Factors

For cells to reproduce and work effectively during the healing process, a variety of proteins are required. Proteins are divided into two parts: instructors to slow down or speed up the process and substrates to observe the process.

Stem Cells

Stem cells are cells within the body with the unique ability to turn into other types of cells. During the healing process, stem cells are delivered to the injured area, where they live under the matrix and are influenced by growth factors to determine the type of cells they will become.

Platelet-Rich Plasma

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a rapidly growing regenerative medicine area of orthobiologics. Platelets are the blood cells responsible for clotting, but they have also been shown to have excellent potential in triggering or expediting the healing process in bones, muscles and ligaments.

Although clinical trials are still underway to determine the full capabilities of PRP injections, multiple studies indicate that PRP injections to the chronic injury sites have facilitated soft tissue healing when other treatments had failed.

Future of Orthobiologics

As with any new treatment method, there’s a lot of potential and a lot to be excited about. The treatments we take for granted today were once experimental. Researchers are constantly looking for more effective, less invasive treatment options for patients,

Schedule a Consultation

If you’re an athlete who recently suffered an injury and are curious about orthobiologics, schedule a consultation with Dr. Melander right away. Our team of sports medicine and orthopaedic surgery experts will evaluate your injury develop a personalized treatment plan that helps you get back in the game as quickly as possible.

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Categories: Orthobiologics, Sports Medicine Monday