NY Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez and What Is Orthokine Therapy?

Louie Babcock@Medic_LouieContributor IIIFebruary 24, 2012

Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Photo courtesy of Getty ImagesLeon Halip/Getty Images

In early December, Alex Rodriguez went to Germany to have orthokine therapy. This medical procedure was done to help Alex with his chronic right knee and shoulder problems.

So what is orthokine therapy?

Orthokine therapy was initially designed to treat osteoarthritis. This technique was developed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Wehling.

Osteoarthritis is a bone condition that involves loss of cartilage. Cartilage is a tissue found in all areas of the body. It also separates bone in the joints. Without cartilage, there is bone on bone contact, which is very painful for the person suffering from the disease.

Professional athletes are very susceptible to osteoarthritis since they put a lot of stress on their joints over their career.

During osteoarthritis, a protein is produced in our body that promotes the breakdown of cartilage. That protein is called interleukin-1. (IL-1)

In order to slow down the body's production of this protein, another protein must be used. This protein is interleukin-1 receptor antagonist.(IL-1Ra)

Imagine that you see an open man hole with water flowing into it. The water represents the protein IL-1. The open man hole represents the body. The water is flowing into it unobstructed.

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Now imagine taking a man hole cover and placing it on top of the man hole. The cover represents IL-1Ra. The cover now stops the water (IL-1) from going down the hole.

This is what is happening inside the body. IL-1Ra blocks the IL-1 from breaking down any more cartilage.

The procedure itself consists of blood being drawn from the arm of the patient. The blood is then placed in a tube and centrifuged. During this process, the blood and the particles inside of it, separate. The protein IL-1Ra can be identified and multiple copies of it can be made, and a serum can be produced. This serum is then injected into the injured site.

Since the patient is providing the protein for the treatment there is no chance for the body to reject it.

Alex Rodriguez is not the first professional athlete to receive this treatment. Kobe Bryant has had this done, and he is the one that encouraged Alex to go through with it.

This treatment will allow Alex to play virtually pain free. This will help him dramatically at the plate. Alex will be able to drive the ball again. I would not be surprised if this also helps his range of motion while out in the field.

This procedure is not approved by the FDA, although I think now that two high profile athletes have had it done, it will not be long until this procedure is available here.

Last year Alex missed considerable time during the season with his injuries. If Alex can recover the way Kobe did, then we may see the old Alex Rodriguez back.

A healthy Rodriguez gives the Yankees one of the most powerful lineups in baseball.

 My projected line for Alex this season is a batting average of .294, 31 home runs, and 102 runs batted in.

Louie Babcock has over five years experience working in emergency medicine. He is also studying medicine at the University of Minnesota.

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